Saturday, January 1st, 2050. What is going on on Earth? Mars? Milky Way? The Universe? Cars flying over our heads, super high-speed trains, internet all around the globe, a couple of citizens of Mars, fewer accidents, less poverty, fewer diseases, fewer deaths, more peace, more equality, more opportunities, more time to enjoy with family and friends, wider networking, short time overseas trips, gas living its extinction, solar, wind and hydrogen energy at its peak. That sounds like a scenario anyone could imagine, right? However, it may not be like this according to a couple of specialists.
For instance, have you ever thought that World War III would be just around the corner? No, that is what Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking stand for. According to a publication from The Guardian (September 4th), Elon Musk – considered the 21st century Steve Jobs and, consequently, one of the greatest visionaries all around the world, CEO of SpaceX, Tesla, Solar City and co-founder of PayPal, appointed by CNBC on April 24th, 2014 and the possible first trillionaire in the world along with Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos – has been firmly stating that the UN must, urgently, have a strong policy to ban the development and use of killer robots (The Guardian, August 20th, 2017). Moreover, Stephen Hawking, known for being the most intelligent person on Earth of the 21st century, also stated to the BBC (December 2nd, 2014) that based on his own experience of communication that uses a basic form of AI and machine learning, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”
On the other hand, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of the Facebook, owner of a net worth of U$71.2bi (Forbes December 31st, 2017), number 5 of the world and the youngest richest person on Earth, has a thoroughly different opinion when it comes to AI. Rollo Carpenter, creator of Cleverbot, is on the same page as Zuckerberg: “I believe we will remain in charge of the technology for a decently long time and the potential to solve many of the world’s problems will be realized.”
Musk and Zuckerberg have been starring in a great squabble when it comes to this matter. In spite of the ideological dispute, AI has been advancing. Microsoft has been launching consistently and steady videos on the robots the have been creating at Silicon Valley. Killing machines, maids, high profile chefs are some of the most known inventions of theirs. Facebook has just shut down a couple of AI robots after they created their own language of interaction, Sophia is their main creation. After Vladimir Putin (The Verge September 4th, 2017) said: “Artificial Intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind.”, this discussion has gained eve more ignition power. We know Musk and Zuckerberg have a personal issue due to the fact that SpaceX exploded one of Zuckerberg’s satellites to provide internet to Africa and we know Zuckerberg was pretty upset about it.
Nevertheless, let’s come to the ground now: 2018. Regardless of all of this progress that world AI leaders have been making, even third-world countries have been grasping a bite of the AI progress. E.g. weather forecast and chatbots. Many entrepreneurs and leaders have been investing tons of money at their small companies. I, for example, am an entrepreneur, industrial engineering graduate student and have been investing part of my budget in AI. Even though I am the CEO and founder of a small company, I believe the future holds a big path for those leaders who think and make AI a reality at their companies. After speaking at a State Department Program Summit and being its alumni, I could pivot my company and make it more innovative. Being part of this network, gave me tons of new ideas to improve my business model and take it to the next level. We are starting to go national, next year, continental and the year after, overseas. It is impossible to have a sustainable company answering customer at this scale with the quality and speed we like to deliver to our customer. That is why we believe having chatbots will increase our scalability, quality, impact and profit margin, since part of the profit is destined to develop one the poorest region of the globe, in India. Despite this point of view of mine, I do not hold the expertise to develop a good chatbot. I am not illiterate at programming, though, therefore, I have hired people to develop it, by doing this, I created jobs, provided to more families and paid more tax to the government.
All the scientific fiction movies and cartoons showing AI as a threat and a solution to the planet are already a reality: Jetsons, Robocop, I Robot and Terminator are real or why do you think Facebook shut down Sophia?
Another discussion regarding AI is whether it would result to the end of work. Would the unemployment rate skyrocket? Teaming up with Zuckerberg, I firmly believe this is just a naysayer wild thought. Looking a little bit to the past years, we were used to seeing welders, Flash programmers, screw fasteners, diskettes and video cassettes. Nowadays, in the first world countries, we still see, not so frequent, though: cashiers and taxi drivers. We do not need to go back to the 15th century to understand that the form of labor changes throughout the times. It is a certain change. We also see professionals with three bachelor’s degrees, MBA’s, PhD’s, speaking five languages and they still have been having a hard time to get a job. What really catches my attention is: what is the professional the companies will hire in 2050? I do not believe tons of degrees will guarantee the human being a good position at a company. There are a couple of skills that are not acquired at a university that, for real, make a difference. They are, emotional, relational and financial intelligence. These things are pretty hard for a robot to get or do you think a robot would be able to reproduce Warren Buffet’s remarkable insights that have been making him able to hit lots of homeruns? Not at all, indeed.
If you go to an automobile manufacturer today and watch some videos from 1980, you will see a whole different picture. A weird scene with few people and many robots. This means a larger profit margin, fewer mistakes, more vehicles being produced at the same time and even more jobs. Why? The I.T. department of this very company and every company all around the globe has never ever been so caught up like nowadays. Complex systems, robots, programming… all in all, artificial intelligence. Who is going to be in charge of developing, monitoring and improving all of this byte intelligence form? The is answer is fresh and clean: the human being. On the other hand, education has got to walk on the same path and rhythm. It will not work if mathematic is being taught the same way, though. We are surrounded by tons of boring, tedious and hyperactive children, not to mention those who are absent-minded and the slowpoke ones. For the latter, there is a quick and straight explanation. Tons of physicians all around the world are lazy enough not to diagnose the right problem of them, named hyperactive children, and they tell their parents they have a hyperactivity problem, so they should take some Ritalin. I am not stating there are no cases where Ritalin really fits, yes, there are, however, watching the numbers, you do not need to be high mathematically ranked to understand that the children are not the problem. The way of teaching, the schools… nothing changes. We have smaller SD cards that can store up to 1 terabyte of information, we have more powerful cars that are more protective when it comes to accidents, we have different ways of cooking, even though, we keep on teaching the same way, with the same desks layout and the same techniques. Is not there a problem with the evolution of education?
As sources of ammunition so as to innovate at this field, we know different shapes, not just the rectangular one like the desks are organized, we know virtual reality, we have big investments in Research & Development, new discoveries and we keep on being the stubborn beings we used to when we were Stone Age men and women. We cannot think of positions being taken by highly ranked tech requirements when nobody is being taught to think and to act in an innovative way. They are just reproducing knowledge, they are not thinking.
By putting the pieces together, we come to be very hopeful, prosperous, easier and with many more future possibilities. We may surely observe and watch out for what Mr. Hawkings and E. Musk have been firmly standing for. It is a risk, nevertheless, paraphrasing the own Elon Musk, you can put all the eggs in one basket, as long as you have control of the basket. I truly believe in this and I also believe that it is from the human nature, to be controller, we want remote controls for everything in our houses, cars, ships and whatsoever. We cannot stop something that might lead the cure of tons of diseases, a very low rate of accidents because of this. We mustn’t fear the unknown. Despite knowing it is quite hard to face changes, we shall not freak out and chicken out if we desire to move forward and thrive. We may not fear the unemployment rate; we may not face World War III or anything like this. We have enough brain mass to understand that if World War III happens, it means the extermination of mankind and also to look back in history to get that since ancient times, labor has been changing and it is not now that it will stop. We just cannot fold our arms, stand still and wait for the coins to fall from the sky. We need to find the unknown, improve ourselves and go with the DNA crossing over ability to become better human beings. If we do not believe our DNA, we are surely lost and there is no salvation for that.
Paraphrasing Princess Diana, or Wonder Woman, I would tell the world: brace yourselves! In order to achieve greatness, we need to move out of our comfort zone and if there is one side to pick, I pick evolution, development and disruption. Changes are always hard; however, I want to be part of the, let’s say, 4th Industrial Revolution. Sometimes we need to go over giants but being on the shoulder of other giants, like Sir Isaac Newton would state. By assembling education, innovation, entrepreneurship, technology, some good marketing campaigns in order to make the population understand that AI is not a threat but just another step towards the future, I have no doubt we will be successful. Virtual Reality is just around the corner. Let’s use it so as to aware the population the benefits of this new revolution.
To top it off, we do not see a single hotel under Air B&B’s ownership nor a single car under Uber’s ownership, we see many hotels under Hilton’s and Ford’s, for example. Who is more valuable at the moment? If you said Air B&B and Uber, you are right. Uber generated many more jobs through the GIG economy when collaboration is the word of the game table at the moment. If 2050 were a poker table, I would go all in for happier people, different, but more jobs created, a more connected and faster world. I want to be part of this change, I want to have my team of robots in order to help me carry out work, I see myself with a couple of screens and sensors around me either at home or at the office. Nice to meet you, I am the CEO of the most high-tech language school all around the world (in 2050) where my teachers reach you out by flying cars and my assistances (robots) remind you of the homework and the lessons to come. If my opponent were betting a desperate chaotic world, he would surely lose it all to me and I would probably be declared as champion of the tournament that night. Do you want to come along, sit down on the table and place your bet? Make yourself comfortable and let’s see who makes it to high stakes first place!