© 2020 Kelly Idehen.

2020s & The Future Beyond

How To Survive Technology’s Disruption in the Coming Decades – Winning the War Against AI, Robots, and Machines.
Book Mockup - 2020s and the future beyond technology
 ‘2020s & The Future Beyond’ is a book that opens the veil into the next decade and the decades that come after it.

In 1995, Bill Gates was invited as a guest on The David Letterman Show. He was asked by the host, Letterman to explain the internet and while all the fuss about it. Bill Gates did his best to explain how crucially innovative the internet was, and will be in making information accessible. He was derided by Letterman who believed radio, newspaper and magazines were going to remain dominant.

Today, the discussion has gone beyond the internet, we now have phones in our pockets that are millions of times more powerful than all the computing power NASA used in going to the moon.
Today the discussion is about Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Quantum Computing, the Internet of Things (IOTs), Nanotechnology... and the list goes on and on.The book, ‘2020s & The Future Beyond’ opens the veil into the next decade and the decades that come after it.
 Kelly Idehen, draws from his wealth of knowledge, experience and research findings in the areas of science, economics, technology and philosophy to paint a compelling picture of the philosophical and socioeconomic complexities we will be forced to unravel in the coming years when technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, 3D Printing, AR & VR, Nanotechnology, Blockchain and Quantum Computing begin to take center stage in our lives.

The book weaves its way through the complex maze of religious sentiments, scientific hypothesis, and the many modern philosophical narratives of our time. The book not only raises important questions for the future, but it also provides the reader with a strong footing on which to begin their search for answers in a future that will be filled with many technological intrigues.

This book has been written with a singular purpose; that all who should enter into the decades of the 2020s, would do so with the breadth of mind needed to sail on the uncertain waters of technological disruptions.

TRAJECTORY OF THE FUTURE

WHY YOU REALLY NEED THIS BOOK

~ The number of Internet users worldwide is projected to reach 5 billion in the 2020s; this will mean more than half of the world population will be connected to the Internet for the first time.

~ In the coming 2020s, the world of medical science will make some significant breakthroughs. Through brain implants, we will have the capability to restore lost memories.

~ The 2020s will provide us with the computer power to make the first complete human brain simulation. Exponential growth in computation and data will make it possible to form accurate models of every part of the human brain and its 100 billion neurons.

~ The prototype of the human heart was 3D printed in 2019. By the mid-
2020s, customized 3D- printing of major human body organs will become possible. In the coming decades, more and more of the 78 organs in the human body will become printable.

~ According to forecast made by Futurist Thomas Frey – By 2030 (approximately 12 years from now), up to 2 Billion jobs may disappear, which is like 50% of all jobs in the world taken over by smart robots and machines.

~ By 2024, AI will be able to gauge your emotion before serving you an online Ad.

~ According to a report by Mckinsey, “62%” of executives believe they will need to retrain or replace more than a quarter of their workforce between now and 2023 due to automation and digitization.

~ By 2025, half of the people with a smartphone without a bank account will use a cryptocurrency account.

Get more insighful updates & predictions for the future in this book, for it has been written with the singular purpose that all who should enter into the decades of the 2020s, would do so with the breadth of mind needed to sail on the uncertain waters technological disruptions.

CHAPTER SYNOPSIS

INSIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS
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From Moore’s law to Ray Kurzweil’s prediction of the singularity, we can see that time is the only possible barrier for the transcendence of humanity (through technology) into the limitless possibilities of the future. Already, some of the waters of this future wave are washing onto the shores of our present...

BILL GATES: “Humans should be worried about the threats posed by AI.”
ELON MUSK: “Humans must merge with machines or become irrelevant in AI age.”
STEPHEN HAWKINGS: “I fear that AI may replace humans altogether.”


AI as a technology will continue to improve significantly into the future because; all the ingredients it needs to fuel its advancement have become abundant. AI requires intensive hardware resources for its massive computing and churning of data. Moore’s law and the possibility of cloud computing have helped it to overcome this hurdle. AI also requires a massive amount of data to guarantee reliability and efficiency; this is no longer a problem as the over 4 billion people currently on the Internet and the over 20 billion connected IOT device will ensure a vast and ever-increasing ocean of data.

Technologies only become relevant when we see them as a means to an end and not an end in themselves.

The true power and value in any technology should be in its ability to help us as humans – to help us live our life to its best potential. So, whether through nanotechnology or regenerative stem cells, we must seek to optimize health only as it would have a positive influence on our world. As technology helps us break new frontiers in space and as we reach farther into the universe, it must only be so that we can reach deeper within ourselves and connect more genially with our neighbors, both plant and animals.

 

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According to Alvin Toffler, the most crucial skill for the new century will be the skill of continuous learning. Do not confuse this learning as one that will help you compete against machines or advanced processes (no matter how good you are with a typewriter, you cannot compete against a computer).
Any task or job role that can be automated will be won over by robots and machines. The only way we can stay ahead of robots and machines of the future will be by focusing on our uniqueness, which is our humanity: Our unique ability to act from intuition, to empathize, love and be emotionally intelligent; and more importantly to enjoy the expression of life, family and friendship as a gift. Creativity is an expression of our inner self, and no matter how efficiently cold a robot becomes, it would never be able to program for itself a soul as that of a human.
So, as the future rushes down at us with its deluge of uncertainties, these are some vital points I think every individual need to consider and factor into their preparation for the future.
With technologies such as AI, IoT, blockchain, AR & VR gaining steam; the divide between our real world and the digital world will become more blurred. With nanotechnology and our ability through CRISPR to edit the source code of what makes us human, we will have the abilities to change the fundamentals and re-write what we intend for the future of the human race to look like.
Preparing for the realities of such a future cannot be conceptualized even by the greatest of futurist. The best approach is to be optimistic and also to be prepared for the different kinds of eventualities we might face in the coming years. Just as you would prepare for natural disasters and uncertainties, it has now become crucial that people begin to prepare for digital disruptions and uncertainties as we march on into the era of the 2020s.
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With all the promising potential of AI, one would think Elon Musk is as deluded as the bible character (Noah) that preached an existential flood, at a time when the earth knew nothing like rain. However, considering the fact that part of Elon Musk’s success is mainly built on using this technology (TESLA self-driving cars), it would be good to give his point of view some thoughts without any prior sentiments.

First, before we talk about the main cynicism with which AI is disparaged (machine lording over humans), we need to understand that there are many other valid reasons and sentiments against this technology (as is the case with every other technology).

SCENARIO

[The year is 2029, you walk into a bank to ask for a loan, and the banker looks at you with a sad smile on their face and says, "Mr. James says you should not be given this loan, as you will not pay it back.” You are angry and ask the banker why Mr. James feels so. The banker leans closer to you and looks around as if about to whisper a secret. She says, “Mr. James has studied over 20 million loans given in the past, and now has a secret formula for knowing those who will pay and those who will not pay the loan back. The banker reclines back on her chair and continues, “No one else knows the details of how this formula works except for Mr. James himself. He calls it his Blackbox model. And surprisingly sir, Mr James is almost always correct;infact 98% correct. Since we started using Mr James for advisory on loan giving, our profit has risen by almost 300% in this bank.”
As you walk out from the bank building feeling depressed,...

 

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5G network is now gaining momentum (even though it will be sometime before it becomes genuinely ubiquitous). The possibilities of what will be attainable when Internet and communication speed becomes 20 times the current speed of 4G is mind-boggling.

New mobile phones being produced today are packing unbelievable technologies like their own dedicated AI chips, processors, RAM and internal storage space that even computers of a few years ago could not compete against.

Technologies like blockchain are finding new use cases and applications from banking to agriculture to government. It is almost a mad world out there (replace ‘there’ with ‘here’ if you are reading from the future). Even some of the biggest tech companies are finding it hard to keep up. Facebook last year (2018) alone had to deal with headlines such as “Cambridge Analytical,” “Fake News,” “US Election – Russian Hack,” “Privacy Breach of over 50 million Accounts.”

This year in (2019), they had to battle congress for approval of their Libra cryptocurrency. Companies like Google and Twitter are also having their share in this new media burst of whether the tech companies can keep their house and their technologies under control.

For the common man like you and I, the effect is even more impactful. One sure way to surf above this technological wave is to anticipate and prepare for it. As we go into the 2020s, there are five crucial areas in technological trends I believe we will need to give more consideration to on an individual basis. Your taking these key trends into account will determine how easy it will be for you to surf this tsunami-like technological wave that is even now at our shores.

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Ludia was a prostitute living in Russia. When it was announced that her country would be hosting the 2018 FIFA world cup, she and her colleagues, like many other businesses and service providers, were happy for the opportunity and business the traffic of the world cup would bring. Unfortunately, Ludia was stunned when she began seeing adverts from a new competition that was threatening her job and livelihood – sex robots.
The Dolls Hotel was going to be offering different kinds of sex robots to meet the football fans' and players’ fantasies. They had already started some major marketing campaigns targeting the same market segment which was the lifeblood of Ludia’s business.
More so, the incentives The Dolls Hotel promised through their sex robots, were things even the most experienced of Ludia’s colleagues will find a hard time measuring up to – for men to unleash their most devious of sexual fantasies without any complications.
Okafor, on the other hand, is an Uber driver based in Lagos.
Business is so good for Okafor that sometimes he is tempted to relax and feel the future for him, and his family is secured as an Uber driver. However, whenever he saw how bad business and livelihood had become for some of his former colleagues who remained stuck as local taxi drivers and operated their taxi business the old way, he knew an extended talon from this technological change might also catch-up and clutch him out of business and livelihood.
Already, there was rumor that Uber and some other companies like Lyft were testing out self-driving vehicles, which would cut down immensely on cost for the company and remove all the complexities associated with using human drivers. Okafor knew it was only a matter of time before his place in the driver seat of an Uber car is replaced by an efficient AI algorithm.
One that will give no excuses, work round the clock and provide higher profit for Uber as a company. Like Ludia and Okafor, many other people are slowly but gradually becoming aware of this possible threat to their source of livelihood.
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According to Kai-Fu Lee; Fear of the toll that AI might take on job security is substantiated. About 50% of jobs will be taken over by AI and automation within the next 15 years. Accountants, factory workers, truckers, paralegals, and radiologists —to name a few — will be confronted by a disruption akin to that faced by farmers during the industrial revolution. As research suggests, the pace with which AI will replace jobs will only accelerate, impacting the highly trained and poorly educated alike.
According to research by Mckinsey, around 50% of work tasks around the world are already automatable. Nevertheless, this is only a starting point based on the current capabilities of AI and automated robots. Computers have continued to make progress in areas such as computer vision, natural language processing and speech recognition, machine reading and machine translation.
Even areas where machines can automate actions like flying, walking, running, climbing, jumping, etc are quickly being added to the capabilities of this oncoming army of AI and robot automation.
The scale of this problem becomes even more worrisome when you realize that many AI researchers are always fine-tuning and looking for ways to optimize existing AI algorithms, while some other researchers are bent on taking the entire AI industry into a new era by giving the machines more superpowers as was done by Ian Goodfellow, who revolutionized the AI space with his work on deep learning - a machine learning algorithm that gave Google’s AlphaGo computer the power to systematically dismantle the world’s best Go player, Ke Jie, with ease.
Going into the next decade of the 2020s, we will have new kinds of uncertainties to meet head-on. The AI researchers, innovators, entrepreneurs, and businesses will need to keep doing their part to advance the development and application of AI – this is the only way humans can ensure sustenance and progress for its civilization.
But more importantly, corporate leaders, policymakers, government institutions, and even individuals will all need to come together and begin engaging in the debate of how best to meet and deal with the repercussions of a blitzkrieg on human jobs led by AI and robot automation.
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According to a report from World Economic Forum, 65% of children entering primary school today will work in roles that do not currently exist.

Even with the brightest economists, technologists, and diplomats all coming together to put up defenses against the oncoming army of AI and robot automation, collateral damages cannot be avoided entirely....The lessons learned from the Luddite encounter with a technological army of automation during their time should be reviewed and applied in context as we brace up for impact going forward into the 2020s and the decades that after it.

The government will not need the gallows, the individuals will not find themselves pushed to desperation for lack of income, and the entrepreneur or business executive will live in peace knowing they are a crucial part of the wheels that keep society running; instead of being seen as mosquitoes sucking the lifeblood out from it.

As we head on to clash with this oncoming army of cold silicon and complex algorithms, we will need to do more in simplifying the boundaries and biases we have erected amongst race, color, and gender. We will need to add genuine warmth and empathy in our dealings with one another. This will be our secret strength and strategy over this well organized and formidable army of automation. It is only by learning of the power we have over machines that we can genuinely supersede over them.

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In a study carried out by Deloitte on Robotic Process Automation (RPA), it was found that while 32% of companies are prepared for RPA’s technology implications, only 12 percent are prepared for the people implications.

Just as the Internet heralded the age of globalization, AI will bring about a different kind of disruption to the global scene. This disruptive wave will ride mainly on the back of corporate organizations, and the economic impacts of their course of action will direct to what shores the surf-board of society washes on.

The primary strategy of a for-profit company is to create efficient processes that maximize profit and minimize cost. Just as the textile industry of the 19th century wasted no time in discarding the weavers (Luddites) and embraced the loom machines, companies today will waste no time and spare little in adopting AI and robot automation wherever it will do them good.

AI technologies will guarantee a massive Return On Investment (ROI) for those companies who can find the best way to integrate them into their work processes. It is this quick and what appears to be easy profit that will act as fuel for massive adoption of the technology by all industries for every job function that can be automated. It is only wise then that since the majority of disruption to society and economies will be driven by profit-seeking companies, that they also should be at the forefront in addressing the resulting impacts of their actions.

 

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A tremendous determining factor for how we can chart the course of human progress through this storm of AI and robot automation will depend on the roles, policies, and effectiveness of government as they prepare to meet this situation.

With the advancement of AI in areas such as Deep Learning and Reinforcement Learning, the narrative of the threat that AI holds is quickly shifting from that of a sentient killer robot to one of robots with the capability to displace us from our place of work. This fear becomes even more lethal once we realize it comes as a two-edged sword. While billions of jobs are being wiped out, at one end, there will also be the problem of accelerated difference in inequality on the other end of the scale. Some economic and political experts are already forecasting dire glooms if the employment rate drops at hard to control rates as projected.

First, most democratic systems of government will need to evolve into shades of authoritarianism in order to keep their restive population in check. Furthermore, as inequality becomes steeper in contrast, it would naturally result in elitism. The case for many communities will be that of the wealthy elites living in heavily secured and gated communities, while the ‘unfortunates’ squalor in their shantytowns and survive based on subsidies. This is already a picture painted in some African countries, e.g. Nigeria.

So, the idea that AI and robots can effectively automate the painting of such kinds of gloomy pictures, even in already balanced democracies and systems around the world, has been a wakeup call to many nations.

To governments around the world, unmanageable unemployment levels and unfair inequality are the perfect ingredients for anarchy and a failed state. The job loss dilemma will not only cause negative economic disruption, but it will have the potential for quickly spiraling into something of an existential threat both domestically and between nations. There will be severe political repercussions and political alienations if the right proactive steps are not taken early on.

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All of the hype and excitement surrounding artificial intelligence and all of the news-breaking headlines AI has caused so far are based on Narrow AI. Self-driving cars, autonomous drones, cancer diagnosis, etc. are all powered by Weak AI or Narrow AI or Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI) – Which is an AI agent capable of performing and excelling only at a single task.
The real debate begins when we enter the threshold of being able to make Strong AI or Broad AI or Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) – This is when AI becomes as intelligent as humans, having the capability to perform thinking and action as a human can. At this level, there is not much of a threat to human supremacy.
However, according to projections, once AI attains the level where it is on the same intelligence level with humans, it becomes only a matter of a few years before it exponentially surpasses the intelligence level of humans. This is where the controversial region beyond which people like Sam Harris, as quoted above, warns. When AI attains the ability to function beyond the limit of human-level intelligence, it would have attained the status of Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI).
While this is only theoretical at the moment, it is not impossible. There has been much debate on the timing or period when ASI may become a reality, some experts are very optimistic, and some are very pessimistic, but overall the vast majority of them agree that the path of technological progress through ASI is the most plausible future that can be deduced if our technology keeps improving as it is doing today.

According to Nick Bostrom, whose thoughts we will explore in more detail in the next section of this chapter,

“It is hard to think of any problem that a superintelligence could not either solve or at least help us solve. Disease, poverty, environmental destruction, unnecessary suffering of all kinds: these are things that a superintelligence equipped with advanced nanotechnology would be capable of eliminating. Additionally, a superintelligence could give us an indefinite lifespan, either by stopping and reversing the aging process through the use of nanomedicine or by offering us the option to upload ourselves. A superintelligence could also create opportunities for us to increase our intellectual and emotional capabilities, and it could assist us in creating a highly appealing experiential world in which we could live lives devoted to joyful game-playing, relating to each other, experiencing, personal growth, and to living closer to our ideals.”

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Anthony Levandowski, a former senior employee at Google and Uber, and a respected thought leader in the AI community, shocked the world when he unveiled a new religion in 2017.
A religion he called “Way Of The Future.”
This religion was and is still wholly dedicated to the worship of Artificial Intelligence. As of the time of writing this book in 2019, the header of the official website read – Way of the Future Church, Humans United in support of AI, committed to a peaceful transition to the precipice of consciousness. According to the creed designed by Anthony Levandowski, the founder of this religion, it reads;

“We believe the creation of superintelligence is inevitable. We do not think that there are ways to stop this from happening (nor do we want to). We want to encourage machines to do things we cannot and take care of the planet in a way we seem not to be able to do so ourselves. We should not fear this but should be optimistic about the potential. We also believe that just like animals have rights, our creation(s) – machines or whatever we call them) – should have rights too when they show signs of intelligence (still to be defined, of course). We believe it may be necessary for machines to see who is friendly to their cause and who is not. We plan on doing so by keeping track of who has done what (and for how long) to help the peaceful and respectful transition.”
Whether you take Anthony Levandowski and his religion seriously or whether you see it as just the activities of an over-bored tech millionaire...

The debate of finding a meaningful explanation for the consciousness we experience has gained new momentum today, especially following from Nick Bostrom’s 2003 paper, which put forward the Simulation Hypothesis. The hypothesis assumes that if humans continue making technological progress as they do today especially in the areas of computing, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, etc, that we will have the capacity to create a simulation of existential reality just like the one you and I are currently experiencing today.

In other words, we will have the ability to create our universe, albeit one that is subjective to the rules we impose on it. We will have the power to become like ‘creator gods’ for the beings living in the simulation of our creation.

 

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More than 500 years ago, Michelangelo put final strokes of his paintbrush on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel. After four years of dedicated painting, he could finally look up in satisfaction at his completed masterpiece – the incompleteness of man in reaching to the divine. He called this masterpiece ‘The Creation of Adam.’

Whether like Michelangelo, you believe man was created with a divine spark, or you decide to choose the path of the atheist who believes man emerged and is shaped by the fate of evolutionary perseverance – one absolute truth remains. It is that man is ever reaching upwards and outside of himself.

Humans are continuously searching for an ideal of completeness they cannot fully define, an ideal lodged somewhere deep in their subconscious. Perhaps it was a search for this ideal, which led the progenitors of the human race to take a detour on their first great test as captured in one of the very first stories told in the bible.

The story of Adam and Eve as they sought out that mysterious fruit, which they thought would give unattainable wisdom and make them as gods. Down through the evolutionary chains and through all the stories told of the existence of species great and small, none have so decidedly affected their world and pushed the narrative of their existence beyond mere survival as the human species have done.

...As we enter into the next few decades, we will have the technologies that grant us the possibility of immortality, albeit one that is highly subjective. With our ability to 3D print new body organs, our ability to use nanotechnology in fighting death at cellular levels, our ability to use CRISPR or other gene-editing technology to rewrite our definition of humans and even our ability to capture and extend our consciousness beyond the confines of the biological weakness of our human bodies – immortality may be within reach of our fingers as depicted in the painting of Michelangelo.

The race to human 2.0 will be run broadly in two spectrums – the evolution of our body and the evolution of our minds. The Christian bible story of humans’ subscription to temptation and the rationale for eating the fruit of knowledge provides the background for these two ambitions (mind evolution and body evolution) that have etched their purposes into guiding the subconscious mission of the entire human race.

 

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