~ 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.
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.
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).
[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,...
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.”
“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.”
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.
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.
This has been a truly great read. It has exposed me to an expansive idea on what to expect for the future and how to position myself for the opportunities that will become avaialble as emerging technologies continue to advance.