While the symptomatic aspects of the onward march of technology are highly unpredictable, Kevin Kelly's AI talk recognizes that the ultimate outcomes of where technology takes us are essentially predetermined. He likens technology to a raindrop: "The actual path of a raindrop as it goes down the valley is unpredictable...but the general direction is inevitable -- it goes downward." What this means is that broad technologies, like the telephone or the internet, were inevitable, while specific instantiations like the iPhone or Twitter were not.
Kelly predicts that the next inevitability in technology is in what he terms as "cognifying," or the creation of AI. AI is already very present in our society, spanning from music recommendations to flying planes. But it's also getting better. AI has already been able to learn games from scratch or create images based on data sets.
The rise of a second Industrial Revolution that could occur within the next 20 years, as Kelly portends, will be the result of these AI developments. The first Industrial Revolution boils down to "artificial power" -- i.e. power from non-human or non-animal sources, like steam and fossil fuels. Artificial intelligence will be able to do the same thing, but with human thought rather than muscle.
The AI Industrial Revolution
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