Honey, where’s my super suit?

super intelligence DXC Blogs

Wow, the world has changed — and it’s changing even more as we speak.

Perhaps at some point in the near future, humans will live beyond Planet Earth. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Perhaps the technology of artificial intelligence (AI) will catch up with us, almost in stealth mode, helping us to solve more challenging problems, optimise what we do and how we do things. Sounds like science fiction, right? Well, maybe not.

Over the last few months, I have been reading “Superintelligence” by Nick Bostrom, a cautious and pessimistic look at the future of AI. The book was written a few years ago, but it holds true today.

It describes many of the methods and ways of doing AI, including two ways intelligence can be achieved: through Human Brain Emulation or a Digital Mind. It touches on questions of morality raised by AI and discusses what could come from the potential coupling of blockchain with augmented reality, virtual reality and augmented human-to-computer interfaces.

Bostrom holds a view that Human Brain Emulation will arrive first, followed by a second wave of AI in the form of a Digital Mind. Following that, he says, will be the rise of augmented human-to-computer interfaces.

Personally, I think Bostrom underestimates the role computers currently hold in our world, and does not realise what design and development teams are truly capable of. In my view, all three of these trends – Human Brain Emulation, Digital Mind and augmented human-to-computer interfaces — will happen at once. The waves will be merged, and before we know it, we’ll be surrounded by super AIs and humans with super suits. (Or whatever device we choose to make super intelligent.)

If this future comes to pass, we will need a new approach to security and control systems, as AI can become an extremely dangerous tool in the wrong hands. Not only will we need to ensure traditional modes of security, we’ll have to think of control systems for AI.

We’ll need to design controls for how AI learns and the resources it can access. We’ll also need to think about how to control designers and developers of code so they don’t unknowingly create a monster. We need to define and understand best practices while we can.

There is collaboration already occurring among many industry leaders. The Google Brain Team openly discusses ideas and research. One billion-dollar voice in the group with a good track record when it comes to exponential technology is Elon Musk. The SpaceX entrepreneur believes we are close to achieving artificial general intelligence; we’re just waiting for a matter of the singularity effect to kick in.

So is an AI winter in the cards, as my colleague Danko Nikolic recently wrote about? In my view, based on what I have seen and the activities happening around the world, I do not believe a cold front is coming. I think that a collaboration of minds is rapidly building in pockets around the world; it’s just a matter of timing and patience for the breakthrough to occur.

More likely, in my view, is an AI spring, a period of time in which organisations, universities, governments or partnerships hide their successes from the spotlight until the universe is ready for them.

Where and when will this end? I think of a world where my children can live happily on other planets, where space travel is no longer a rarity or for the rich but for everyone. I think of a world without pollution and a world where there is equality, where we can be authentic as human and celebrate our differences. I imagine, and I think … therefore I am.

And I also imagine a world where AI plays a harmonious role in our everyday lives. Years from now, we will read about the innovators that broke through the Artificial General Intelligence barrier, reached Superintelligence and changed our lives with human-to-computer augmentation.

Better get our super suits ready!

Sarah James was ANZ lead for Authentic Leadership in DXC and an advocate for DXC’s Women in Leadership and STEM. Prior to leaving DXC in September 2017, Sarah founded the Empowering Future Leaders blog and was its primary author. With over 15 years of experience in the world of IT, Sarah’s specialty is spatial information and includes integration on projects as diverse as mapping volcanoes in Hawaii to delivering high-tech police vehicles.


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