Over the past few years we have seen vast improvements in technology; improvements which have given us both cause for excitement but also caution. One such advancement has been the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) sensations.
There are many who seem unperturbed by the advancement in such tech, merely seeing it as the natural order of things, essential to the business world, and similar to the way that electricity was introduced over 100 years ago. Electricity changed everything, mostly for the better and now we don’t even think of it. It’s just there, working in the background. This is how Kevin Kelly, founder of Wired magazine, sees AI, in particular, developing.
Kelly allies tech advancement to something like Amazon Web Services. In that the business world will develop it so that it just simply turns into something affordable and smart; something that can run along in the background of all our lives; something we don’t even pay that much attention to. As such, he see AI as essential for every new start-up business plan.
In response to those who fear machines developing consciousness, Kelly states that tech wizards will just have to engineer it so that we can prevent AI developing this consciousness we all fear so much. Internet-enabled machines will have to carry disclaimers, such as “consciousness-free”, in order to allay people’s fears.
The IoT is also advancing at a rapid pace, allowing inanimate objects, as well an animals and humans to be wirelessly connected to the internet through exclusively identifiable, embedded devices.
This technology allows information to be sent and received without the need for human intervention, which, for businesses, means they can greatly cut down on the amount of time and money they have to spend throughout a normal working day when relying only on humans.
We have already seen instances of internet-connected devices, such as cars with their built in sensors that can park for you, smart fridges and thermostats, as well as many other household devices and this is only set to continue. It has, for instance, been estimated that by 2020 there will be over 50 billion internet-connected devices!
Demand for the IoT continues to grow…
Consumers seem ever ready to adopt these new technologies and seem to be constantly on the lookout for technology that can anticipate our next move and even act as our personal assistant, in the way that we see Google Now, an “intelligent personal assistant” doing.
The question is what will happen when we link up the two technologies; artificial intelligence with these internet-connected everyday devices. Companies need to be thinking about the implications of connecting the two and ready to pay more money into research and development in order to be ready for the constant stream of concerns that will, no doubt, come from consumers. Various governments around the world will also be concerned about the implications for safety and security.
Scientists and philosophers throughout history, as well as in the present time, such as David Chalmers (an Australian philosopher) have always pondered the question of consciousness; so much so that the question of what consciousness really is, still very much remains unanswered. Despite this, many are terrified that computers and devices will develop a conscious of their own!
Some believe that it is and can only be a human thing, whereas others are more open to the idea that eventually our computers, as well as the internet will become conscious eventually, especially as they become more and more connected and organised.
For instance, the French philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin spoke about how consciousness is birthed from the informational wiring of a being, no matter whether it was made up of neurons or electronics.
The singularity is near
It appears that we’re still no closer to understanding the issue of consciousness, so should we therefore be alarmed about the advancement of AI and IoT? Start-ups have given us some of the best technology advances in the past 10 years and should most certainly not be scared into stagnating when it comes further developing AI and the IoT.
However, that said, when the world’s greatest minds advise approaching such things with care, it is not something to be ignored.
A word of warning…
Stephen Hawking has been very open about expressing himself on the dangers that artificial intelligence can bring, even stating that it could bring about the end of the human race! Microsoft’s Bill Gates has also stepped forward to admit he is concerned about the threat of machines becoming too intelligent and outgrowing their reliance on humans.
Most people’s fear factor stems from fictional novels and movies where we see computers developing their own sense of morality and the able to mimic human behaviour, as well as the ability to feel emotion. More often than not what comes next is the overriding sense that the world would be better without the human race. This is all fictional though!
Should we be basing our decision whether or not to advance technology further on science fiction? Of course not. All we can do is work hard to resolve the privacy, security and safety issues that are so important to consumers whilst making sure we don’t overstep the mark and put ourselves in jeopardy.
Don’t fight the future
The business world should be approaching every decision with caution, not just the issue of AI and the IoT. Our world should not be held back by fear, after all if our predecessors had let fear get in the way we would never have known the world was round, developed electricity, or even the internet itself.
Start-ups are made up of some of the most inventive and innovative minds in the world. If left to explore AI and IoT possibilities further, who knows what could happen; after all we could make some evolutionary steps and change the world for the better!