AI will be the next general purpose technology (GPT), according to experts. Beyond the disruption of business and data – things that many of us don’t have a need to care about – AI is going to change the way most people live, as well.
As a GPT, AI is predicted to integrate within our entire society in the next few years, and become entirely mainstream — like electricity and the internet.
The field of AI research has the potential to fundamentally change more technologies than, arguably, anything before it. While electricity brought illumination and the internet revolutionized communication, machine-learning is already disrupting finance, chemistry, diagnostics, analytics, and consumer electronics – to name a few. This is going to bring efficiency to a world with more data than we know what to do with.
It’s also going to disrupt your average person’s day — in a good way — like other GPTs before AI did.
Anyone who lived in a world before Google and the internet may recall a time when people would actually have arguments about simple facts. There wasn’t an easy way, while riding in a car, to determine which band sang a song that was on the radio. If the DJ didn’t announce the name of the artist and track before a song played, you could be subject to anywhere from three to seven minutes of heated discussion over whether “The Four Tops” or “The Temptations” sang a particular song, for example.
Today we’re used to looking up things, and for many of us it’s almost second nature. We’re throwing cookbooks out, getting rid of encyclopedias, and libraries are mostly meeting places for fiction enthusiasts these days. This is what a general purpose technology does — it changes everything.
If your doctor told you they didn’t believe in the internet you’d get a new doctor. Imagine a surgeon who chose not to use electricity — would you let them operate on you?
The AI that truly changes the world beyond simply augmenting humans, like assisted steering does, is the one that starts removing other technology from our lives, like the internet did. With the web we’ve shrunken millions of books and videos down to the size of a single iPhone, at least as far as consumers are concerned.
AI is being layered into our everyday lives, as a general purpose technology, like electricity and the internet. And once it reaches its early potential we’ll be getting back seconds of time at first, then minutes, and eventually we’ll have devices smart enough to no longer need us to direct them at every single step, giving us back all the time we lost when we started splitting our reality between people and computers.
Siri and Cortana won’t need to be told what to do all the time, for example, once AI learns to start paying attention to the world outside of the smart phone.
Now, if only I could convince the teenager in my house to do the same …