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The Singularity: How Close Are We To The Convergence Of Humans And AI?


AI is a new and exciting field that has people and companies excited. I am sure you have had conversations with friends about AI, or heard people talk about AI. Some people are afraid that AI will merge with humans and take over man-kind. Others look forward to AI being used more in everyday life. First off, how new is AI? Believe it or not, AI technology is much older than you think. AI has gone through “AI Winters”, or setbacks and budget cuts. In the 1970’s, and 1980’s, a lot of hype surrounded AI and expectations were high in computer science. Projects became overfunded, and people were disappointed with the results.

Are we close to convergence of humans and AI, or are we going to experience another AI winter? In 1973, professor Sir James Lighthill was asked by the UK Parliament to create an evaluation of AI. In his report he criticized AI, saying that it could not work on real world applications. What has brought this recent “AI  Spring” back? Large tech companies that are using AI successfully to make their companies more efficient, and profitable may be the reason for this AI Spring. Factory automation and manufacturing companies are two prime examples of industries that could use AI to decrease human decision making and increase autonomy and productivity.  So, what are these companies doing with AI, and how close are we to human convergence and AI?

That depends on what you consider to be human convergence. Some, like Elon Musk in an interview with Joe Rogan, argue that the convergence is already happening. In the interview, Musk claims that our lives are connected to our computers and mobile phones. He believes that we are infinitely smarter with our phones, and that our lives are lived on the internet. Our social media accounts express who we are, we take pictures and videos of what we do, our resumes and achievements exist online. We bank online, even use our phones to pay and withdraw cash from ATM’s. Essentially, we are not ourselves without our smart phones or the internet. Without a doubt AI is being used on our information that we post to the web. There are AI algorithms looking at your social media profiles, possibly determining if you are a terrorist, or if you are likely to purchase certain merchandise. AI is suggesting news articles and tailoring your search results to give you what AI believes you want to see. Does that mean we are converged with AI? To some extent, yes, we are.

Musk’s new company, Neuralink, wants to take technology to the next level by connecting your brain to technology and the internet at all times. The claim by Musk is that our thumbs are too slow, and we cannot put all of our data from our daily lives in the cloud with our phones alone. He believes we need a chip connected to our brain so that all of our data from our daily lives can be uploaded on the internet. The first step to any AI project, is collect as much data as possible. That’s what companies like Neuralink will be doing. Collecting Data, like your social media accounts and search results. Except it will always be collecting data.

What brought AI out of the AI Winter? AI that currently exist or is in development today can be used to benefit companies economically in many ways. A factory may deploy an AI system to find defective products and remove them from the production line. AI can also be used to examine and filter resumes, filter spam, or remove hate speech. Amazon uses AI and the data they have on you to predict what you will by next. Negatively AI can be used to create spam tailored to things you like or give governments ways to undermine democracy and use oppressive surveillance. All of these are examples of why companies are benefiting from AI.

The more connected we are to computers the more AI will play a key role in our daily lives. The first step to any AI project is to collect data. Every time you use your smart phone or computer, you are building data that tech companies will be using to enhance your experience. Companies like Neuralink will collect data at a much faster rate than before and have more AI features to test. Everyday AI will have a greater affect every day, maybe suggesting meals, monitoring your health live, help you with business decisions, love life, work efficiency, and more.

Is human convergence with AI a bad thing? That depends, AI may make your life easier and better. Certainly, you will be giving up some privacy. Picture looking at a meal, and AI tells you that with your current heart condition you should eat something else. AI will be used for anti-social people to help them determine if someone in the bar is interested in them. Google search and Facebook already use AI to predict what you want. With voice recognition AI, you can already use voice commands to search like “Hey Google, what restaurants are near me?”.  The more advanced AI gets, the better it will be at making suggestions you will enjoy more and are specific to you. AI will learn what you do and do not like and improve your experience with it as it collects data on you. In fact, AI is already collecting data on you every time you use the internet. AI can help you make better every day decisions, and improve your social life. Imagine having a chip that can get you data instantly, no typing or tedious voice commands.

The next significant step in AI is singularity with our thoughts. When we achieve this, our thoughts will be collected, and AI algorithms will run this data and start improving your life. Some people are very excited for this, while many others are afraid. You will have to decide where you create your boundaries with AI. It will be difficult to refuse AI when everyone around you is using it and doing fun things with it.  As of right now, human convergence with AI is already happening, but we are nowhere near cyborgs or uploading our consciousness into the cloud.

About The Author:

Joseph Zulick is a writer and manager at MRO Electric and Supply.