The age of transitions
February 15, 2011
by Aaron Franz
A Fortune Magazine article posted to CNNmoney.com puts IBM’s most recent and very high profile AI publicity stunt (Watson) into context. You’ll notice this sort of thing with huge media blitzes, because without being put into context they would serve no purpose. You must understand that news itself, does actually serve a definite purpose/ agenda. So what is it?
Watson isn’t simply playing Jeopardy to entertain you, it is introducing itself to you. It is entering your home via your television so that you may say hello to an idea. So what is Watson? It is an artificial intelligence machine created specifically to compete against a human being in a game, not the first to compete with a human, and certainly not the last. On the subject of man/machine competition we are brought back to the Fortune article mentioned earlier.
The Fortune article speaks directly to the prospect of AI machines being introduced into the workforce, and actually replacing humans. This is very intimidating and threatening to people for obvious reasons. When you think about it, there is no tactful way to tell people that they will soon be replaced, at least not outright. Hence the need for Watson to be introduced on a game show: something fun, entertaining, and non-threatening. Alongside the exoteric veil of entertainment you will find the real story presented almost as an afterthought.
“employers in a wide range of industries may increasingly choose technology over people. Few, if any, economists seem willing to acknowledge that scenario, but if it does come to pass, what we consider unacceptable levels of unemployment today could become the new normal tomorrow.”
As it stands today, employment is basically a necessity of life, a survival tool. Our income now precedes the most basic of necessities. It actually provides us with food, shelter, and other basics. Take income away from the
modern man, and what do you have? You have a difficult situation. It is well known that AI machines will be used more and more to perform labor, and that humans will soon be left superfluous. So what will happen when a real life Rise of the Machines occurs? The actual role of the human being will change. “New normal”s will be created for a different sort of system. This fact is well known, and has been discussed extensively by think tanks in their policy reports on emerging technologies. They know full well that the ultimate changes to be made are extreme, and will effect our very biology.
In the context of man/machine competition, one way to keep up with the pace set by AI machines (which will be promoted heavily by major media) will be to “enhance” yourself with various technologies. Cognitive enhancing implants, drugs, and other performance enhancing technologies will be introduced as the solution to the problem of human inadequacy. Again, this is the ultimate direction that Watson is steering us. Little by little our role in society is changing. Realize this now, and understand the role that both news media, and fiction play in the real world. Serious ideas are being introduced through such mediums. A spell has been (broad)cast.