Hitching a Ride on AI

As humans, we’re not too keen to be knocked off the top rung of the proverbial intelligence ladder – that all-powerful position we collectively hold which allows us to make the rules!

But as we look down upon our underlings, there is a growing sense of uncertainty that a species of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is gaining momentum, and in due course will launch an attack for the primary position. And if this happens, what will become of us, and will we cope with being second-in-charge?

Of course i’m being a little dramatic in sketching a future scenario, but let’s not underestimate the speed at which Artificial Intelligence is moving towards Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). Just recently the Allan Institute announced one of its robots had completed and passed a Grade 8 science exam set for human students, scoring a remarkable 90%. This only took 4 years to get right, and with exponential growth in computing power, quantum computing advancement and AI capabilities, we would be naive to think highly capable AI is decades away.

But we don’t need to panic, we need to be clever. Thinking outside the box, creativity and innovation are core strengths of humans – we need to see AI differently. Not as something to fight against but to augment our own intelligence with.

AI can also stand for Augmented Intelligence

There are three key reasons why we need to augment our own intellectual capability:

  • The speed of DNA (biological) evolution is too slow. Very little has changed in our DNA for the last 10 000 years. We can’t rely on natural evolution to retain our top spot.
  • Human progress comes from learning, but the volume and speed of new material creation far exceeds our collective ability to consume, digest, review, examine, hypothesis and research. We need help!
  • AI and machine learning has the capability to learn significantly faster than humans and is increasing this capability exponentially.

It’s critical that we ensure AI works for the benefit of human intellect improvement, not just human progress. We are already seeing significant advancements in Brain/Machine interfaces or Neuro-technology. There are some great examples in areas such as Neuro-prosthetics and Neuro-stimulation. These are blurring the lines between biological and technological improvements and is giving us a glimpse of our co-existence.

I’m not necessarily promoting implantable devices, I personally don’t fancy that, but there is exciting research taking place around non-invasive augmentation as well as neuro-plasticity that is showing how our brains can be adapted and used more productively intervention. I think this is an area of research that holds a lot of promise. If you are interested in some amazing stories around brain plasticity, I recommend you read “The Brain that can Change Itself” by Norman Doidge. We humans are nothing short of amazing!

I’m looking forward to keeping our spot on top of the ladder, I’m even more exciting that we have the opportunity to extend the ladder upwards and carry on climbing as a species, using our AI resources to achieve it.