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The Future of Humanity in an AI Automated World

Just as in centuries past, when new technology hits the mainstream (often after lengthy fighting by intransigent resistors), we are facing a revolution in technology.  New concepts in a multitude of arenas, from computer tech, bio-tech and engineering, are changing the landscape of many industries.


Watson is an IBM supercomputer that combines artificial intelligence (AI) and sophisticated analytical software for optimal performance as a “question answering” machine. The supercomputer is named for IBM's founder, Thomas J. Watson.  Loaded with parameters in almost any given industry it is capable of high speed processing to arrive at possible solutions to many different problems.  Collating and correlating vast amounts of data quickly it can present combinations, linkages and relationships that would take decades for human research to accomplish.


Still, Watson is just a machine!  A vast, complex and very expensive machine, but still a tool in the hands of humans.  Humans with frailties, egos and self-interest who are responsible for loading the data, posing the questions and deciding what to do with the responses.  So, the quality of the results still depends on human input and decisions; the old adage ‘Garbage In ~ Garbage Out’ still applies.


We can now ‘print’ all sorts of objects and may soon be able to ‘print’ biological items using stem cells to be compatible with patients so as to avoid tissue rejection.  Printing guns is passť at this point.  As this tech improves, creating things on demand will eliminate many of our current manufacturing facilities and the people therein employed.


What is the human worker to do?  It is and will always be about SERVICE.  The human element is critical in human interaction, problem solving and social evolution.  Companies have tried those AI/automated response systems for decades, then went offshore to less intelligent people who didn’t understand or speak the English language all that well.  That went (and continues to be) no-where and just pisses off customers and potential customers.


No one wants to talk to a machine, no matter how cute, before surgery or when facing a crisis; either personal or corporate.  While it’s ‘neat shit’ to be able to control the lights in your house or ask a machine what time it is, if it will rain or other fun/interesting factoids; it is still a machine and has no ability to truly UNDERSTAND a situation where human interaction and empathy is required to really comprehend the situation and help derive a solution.


No, People are STILL People and want to talk and interact with other People.  Texting is a lazy way to communicate and kids today don’t even know how to carry on a conversation person-to-person when texting is easier.  Try calling your Grandkids and ask how things are!  Monosyllabic responses are usually the result.


Human interaction has changed.  Texting, and cell phone apps that allow instant communication, videos and pictures are still human communication and cannot be understood by any machine (so far).  Humans are more connected today than ever in human history.  We can text, talk, interact and send/receive information, videos and more almost instantaneously to anywhere on the Planet an internet connection (or a sat-phone) exits.


The future is MORE human interaction, not less.  As AI and Automation relieve humans of the drudgery of repetitive operations there will be more information (not just data) available to digest, pose more questions and analyze the results of AI and automated systems.  The human interaction will continue to change and evolve.  It will still require People to People interaction to maintain society and humanity.  Let’s hope we can mature and evolve before we destroy ourselves by asking the wrong question or making a bad decision with the information presented by the current or future Watson!


Skip Stein is a professional technology consultant residing in Orlando Florida.