Not cars, approaches.
In 1997 IBM’s Deep Blue computer defeated reigning world chess champion Gary Kasparov. Many thought the event augured the rise of technological dominance. In the intervening 21 years, technology has advanced significantly. Now artificial intelligence (AI) dominates future focus with issues ranging from how best to utilize the different aspects of current AI — machine learning, natural language processing, various permutations of deep learning algorithms — to the search for artificial general intelligence (AGI), and whether that will kill off humans. I don’t think that’s likely to happen. However, even if that were, that singularity event when technology becomes sentient is not expected to happen until 2050 by most accounts. That still leaves at least 30 years during which humans have to work, eat, live life, and raise the next generations. So what is the near future of technology and implications for our lives?
These days, Kasparov has been championing and studies have shown, that the partnership of technology with more uniquely human abilities like creativity holds even greater promise than technology or humans separately. Intelligence augmentation, combined intelligence, cognitive collaboration, however you prefer to call it, holds the greatest promise. As it is, we have already become hybrid beings, particularly in the developed world. How many of us could go through a day in our regular lives without the use of smartphones, computers, and technology in general? Very very few I imagine. Let’s look at the two sides of the hybrid future.
People are the definition of complexity as studies by Kahneman and Tversky, and various researchers like behavioral economists have shown. Specifically, entrepreneurs have been studied for decades. Many theories abound about what makes startups entrepreneurs or founders successful — grit or resilience, creativtiy, connections and/or access to capital, degrees and schooling, experience, etc. While many of these factors come up on multiple lists, few are definitive deciders of success, because the focus is too narrowly on individuals. Today’s problems, at least the ones worth solving, are complicated and multi-dimensional requiring not one but many smart, resourceful minds working together to build effective solutions. An innovation mindset is essential., focused on experimentation, collaboration, and learning. Emotional intelligence combined with intellectual agility and resilience is critical to cultivating an innovation mindset. The development of such a team with these kinds mindsets can be hard, uncomfortable, and immensely satisfying when people achieve it.
While there is rabid interest in the blockchain, mixed reality enthusiasts, believers in massive data accumulation, and lots of uninformed talk about artificial intelligence, none of these technologies is a complete answer today to many problems. Technologies combined will produce far better solutions to the problems we have in the world, particularly if we are going to ask people to pay for them. This is already happening with AI and data wrapped around mixed reality and blockchain for instance. That is why we need to shift our focus from industry verticals. All the emerging technologies will be applicable and applied across industries in various ways. The problem is that these technologies are not taught formally right now. The best talent and the best work is coming from people who are passionate and curious about these technologies, people who are working to evolve and explore the technologies further, often outside academic and corporate environments.
In 2014, Kasparov introduced a hybrid chess tournament where teams of humans and computers competed. The winners were not grandmasters, and they won with not necessarily the best computers. Just humans augmenting the computer’s massive computational possibilities with their own special native abilities. So the future will not be solutions that think or do for us, but technologies that can be paired to help us amplify and complement our own abilities.