(These are excerpts from my book "Intelligence is not Artificial")
The Real Future of Computing
In 1988 Mark Weiser proposed the vision of a future in which computers will be integrated into everyday objects ("ubiquitous computing") and these objects will be connected with each other. This became known as the "Internet of Things" after 1998 when two MIT experts in Radio-frequency identification (RFID), David Brock and Sanjay Sarma, figured out a way to track products through the supply chain with a "tag" linking to an online database.
The technology is already here: sensors and actuators have become cheap enough that embedding them into ordinary objects will not significantly increase the price of the object. Secondly, there are enough wireless ways to pick up and broadcast data that it is just a matter of agreeing on some standards. Monitoring these data will represent the next big wave in software applications.
Facebook capitalized on the desire of people to keep track of their friends. People own many more "things" than friends, spend more time with things than with friends, and do a lot more with things than with friends. The equivalent of Facebook for "things" does not exist yet, but potentially it is an order of magnitude bigger.
At the same time, one has to be aware that the proliferation of digital control also means that we will live in an increasingly surveilled world because there will be a record of everything that has happened and that is happening. Machines indirectly become spies. In fact, your computer (desktop, laptop, notepad, smartphone) is already a sophisticated and highly accurate spy that records every move you make: what you read, what you buy, whom you talk to, where you travel, etc. All this information is on your hard disk and can easily be retrieved by forensic experts.
The focus of computer science is shifting towards collecting, channeling, analyzing and reacting to billions of data arriving from all directions. Luckily, the "Internet of Things" will be driven by highly structured data.
The data explosion is proceeding faster than Moore's law, i.e. than the increase in processing speed: exploring data is becoming increasingly difficult with traditional John von Neumann computer architectures that were designed for calculations.
If I am skeptic about the creation of an agent that will be an artificial general intelligence, i am very aware that we are rapidly creating a sort of global intelligence as we connect more and more software and this giant network produces all sorts of positive feedback loops. This network is already out of control and every year gets harder to control it.
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