The future is not binary, its colorful and beautiful.
Early morning standing under the shower I had a thought, as usual most of my good stuff happens under the shower. I thought about the way, as humans, we are headed into the artificial age and how it is so important for everyone to focus on learning about and leveraging AI, machine learning, analytics and automation. I was thinking of all the ways AI will change the way the world works when a small voice inside my head squeaked “that’s just stupid dude, you’re stupid, you’re stupid and don’t forget you’re stupid”. The future is about AI about machines managing machines about machines taking care of the essentials thereby freeing up humans to do the important stuff. AI, IOT, machine learning, analytics and all the technical alphabet soup you can conjure up is all about making machines take care of humans and taking over the tasks that today fill up our lives. The fridge senses how much milk there is and places an order to the vending machine down the street for refills, the waste bin senses when you need new blades for the razor, the coffee machine orders the java, these are simple examples of what’s already in play. Over the next few years everything will be handled by them machines without you needing to worry about anything. In fact for all we know the machines at some point will get so good at it that you wouldn’t even need to worry about figuring out how to earn the money to power this machine led spending spree!!! They would look at you, do a psyche analysis, learn about your habits, figure out your strengths and weaknesses and automatically, using targeted marketing and strategically placed reading material, guide you to the career path that ensures you make exactly as much as the machines want you to make till the time you start thinking of an upgrade (again debatable who would put that upgrade thought in your mind). Of course I’d be damned if any machine anywhere in the world ever can analyze a unique specimen like me but then to try is human (or developer).
So yeah with machines taking care of everything what will humans do? Humans will have so much time to do practically nothing, we will not even need to walk down to the corner store for milk. It’s a mind bending question. Right now I often wonder what do all these people who use “dem” instead of “them” do with the time they save misspelling the word. With the way things are going we wouldn’t even need to reply to emails or messages, machines will have conversations with machines. Well even right now machines talk ot machines humans seldom meet in person but at least the humans are pushing some of the buttons for now, as much as Google would rather have us turn on smart compose. What would humans do if machines are doing not only the heavy lifting but also the thinking, learning, adapting for us. The future seems very very bleak.
Is it? Or is that tiny voice in my head onto something. The future is not binary, a binary future would be bleak. No, the future is vivid. It’s warm and it’s cozy. The future is full of color full of passion and most importantly it is full of art. The future is about expressions. A machine will never (never say never dude says the tiny voice right now) create art that has the right feel to it. Yes granted that someone went into Christies recently, paid $432,500 and came away with a painting created by an algorithm however even my photocopier can do that just give it enough time, carbon dust and paper. And then again that’s the beauty of art, it’s all inclusive, there is no way to say one mans interpretation (or one AIs for that matter) is art and another isn’t. Art is about the beholders perspective and interpretation. Which is why modern art to me may be a toddlers hurried attempt at cleaning up a paint spill and to the “connoisseur” it could mean anything from Abstract Expressionism to Constructivism (my personal favorite being HyperRealism).
The arts is where humankind has a future. Forget the binaries of math and science. We have successfully created a Frankenstein a gigantic behemoth which will progress faster than any human could ever dream once fully unleashed. I suspect we will have cures for HIV, all forms of Cancers and even the common cold within the next 5 years once AI is allowed to evolve in the field of medical research. Of course we will have pocket nukes as well but then the detectors drones would be smarter than the sniff sniff K9 squads. As humans, I believe, our future is in creativity. The math, science, logic fields will be taken care of by AIs that would move so fast that any attempt by a human to catch up would be futile. Think of it like an ant trying to fly an Airbus A380, not happening.
So for the children what and what lies in the future. Some would say we cannot predict, it’s open and up to them. I believe the future is about being and appreciating the Creative in each of us. Teach your children to be creative, to express themselves. Teach yourself to appreciate art, recognize warmth, grow crops (well the jury’s out on this last one but I still feel humans know better about the business of growing food…. I mean when was the last time a vending machine coffee beat the coffee that a barista made for you with their own two hands??). The future is not binary. How do you fight an opponent that does not need to sleep, has a million times more energy and has been mentored by the finest brains in the world? You go asymmetric, you do not need to be running their race go ahead and make your own path. Creativity affords you that opportunity. Remove the binaries of objective thinking and move to subjectivity. A book well written has so many readers, tell stories, art is interpreted differently by different sorts of people, paint. Break free from being a bean counter, from the 0 and 1 binaries of current existence, let the machines worry about that, you focus on using your brains beyond binary.
Humans will always want to be the ones in control, I know I would but then I’m barely human. Being in control starts from understanding the situation first. When you bring in AI you’re saddled with the knowledge that no matter what you do you will never be able to beat the machine, because the damn thing learns, has zero ego, admits mistakes, never repeats them ever and oh so unlike humans never gives up. So take the fight to a plane where there is no fight to begin with, all creativity is good creativity, there is an audience for it no matter how limited your reach. If anything with AI we should be looking at leveraging the abilities of an aware intelligent network to find us our markets and then again when you build for market you build almost always for failure…. build for your passion the markets will present themselves. A uniquely flawed well crafted walnut wood carving dining table from the workshop of an artist in Kashmir will still bring more warmth to a meals than a flawless unit from an assembly line. Humans are interesting because of their flaws and their uniqueness not because we’re exactly like the next guy. AI could be taught to be flawed however there’s a danger in that, what if it makes that a habit and progressively keeps adding design flaws to it’s output.
There’s a lot more to say however it’s time to go make pancakes for the kids…. there’s no AI for that, at least not yet and anyway the kids like it when I flip the pancakes it’s the whole spectacle that’s appreciated not just the end product…. so there AI you still have a bit of catching up to do.
One thought on “the future is not binary”
Classy! Outstanding! Informative!
Keep thinking and writing.
As suggested earlier why don’t you start a column in Times of India / The Hindu?
Writing for a knowledge magazine will likely benefit the readers.