How Artificial Intelligence Can Be Your Friend

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This is an article I originally posted on Elixtacy on July 25th 2017. I have edited the original article.

 

Much has been said about artificial intelligence or AI. Often people have talked about AI in a very fearful way as something with catastrophic and apocalyptic consequences. Even highly regarded people like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawkings have warned of the potential dangers when AI becomes highly developed and sophisticated. There is no question that AI will develop exponentially and become an enormous industry. It will greatly augment other industries and increase their productivity in unprecedented ways.

 

What about when AI becomes more sophisticated than humans?

One of the hot topics surrounding AI and the main cause of most people’s concern is, what happens when AI becomes more sophisticated than humans? Most people view such a situation as a threat to humanity and there are perfectly legitimate and rational arguments as to how AI can be a real danger to the human race. But let’s look at AI and it’s potential in a more exciting and positive way. This is a technology, which has the power to change our lives and make our lives better and less gruelling. Already there exists different kinds of AI such as the electronic calculator, speech and image recognition, or the algorithms designed for automatic language translation, spelling and grammar corrections, and the ones tech goliaths Facebook, Google and Amazon use to create our daily news feeds and recommendations respectively etc. The Siri function on your Apple iPhone (or Amazon’s Alexa) is a very embryonic form of the ‘virtual assistant’ type of AI, which will grow and develop at an exponential rate. At some point in the future this kind of AI bot will be your 24/7 multi task virtual assistant, which you’ll be able to have intelligent two way conversations with about virtually (no pun intended!) anything. Based on all your digital data and spoken words, it will help you make all your decisions for you. This virtual assistant bot will help you with all kinds of issues whether they are legal and financial queries, relationship problems and generally try to help you to organise your life and make it more efficient and productive. A SMART Life! In some ways, it could be said that the future of the traditional Google Search engine, where you type what you are looking for, is ‘voice search’. Existing and continually developing search engine algorithms incorporating increasingly sophisticated speech recognition functions will develop into super smart virtual assistants where all quieries are answered and specific links and information to those quieries is provided through the already substantial amount of data and content on the net.

 

Job automation

People fear that AI will speed up the process of job automation and eventually make all jobs obsolete. This will happen yet it will happen to all Industrial Age, repetitive jobs with little to no creativity. Instead of being fearful, people should be happy. I mean do people enjoy repetitive, humdrum and uninspiring jobs? In our current culture there is this incomprehensible and irrational obsession with work; but work of an often soul destroying kind and not work that people enjoy and which can benefit and change society. AI will eventually automate all forms of repetitive and uncreative work and in the future people will be working far fewer hours.

 

A Post-Work society and why our creativity and ideas will be king

AI in the distant future will lead to a type of Post-Work society. Yet in these times people will be finally free from monotonous work and will likely be engaging and harnessing their creativity and ideas in doing something they love. Rather than being a threat, AI will be an indispensable and invaluable resource, which will augment, complement and greatly benefit our levels of creativity and ideas and help us to realise with the best results whatever we want to achieve. AI will greatly enhance our creativity and generation of ideas and help us to tap into them in unimaginable ways. And best of all, it will all most likely be free. No need to set aside money for expensive lawyers, financial advisors, planners and accountants. Or even software developers and digital data analysts and marketers. AI will be able to serve you in all these areas at no cost.

 

By Nicholas Peart

(c)All Rights Reserved

Low (to no) cost high strength satellite internet for every corner of the world

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Ever wondered if there would come a time when every corner of the planet, both on and off land, would be connected to the internet? Elon Musk wants to do just that via a satellite internet network called Starlink as part of his ambitious Space X project (founded in 2002 to further develop space technology and create the conditions for people to live on other planets). Musk plans on launching a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) broadband “constellation” of satellites, which would beam down high speed internet to every part of the globe. Space X is scheduled to start launching these satellites potentially in 2019 and hopes to have all the satellites in orbit and everything complete by 2024.

Musk’s project is not a brand new thing. A 1990s company called Teledesic along with two other companies, Iridium and Globalstar, tried to build a commercial broadband satellite constellation. Yet these companies didn’t succeed and Teledesic suspended its satellite construction work in October 2002. These companies were maybe too ahead of their time, but with the expansion of the space industry over time as well as the advancement of space technology development as more money continues to be invested in it, Musk’s Starlink satellite constellation has a higher chance of succeeding.

 

The end of cell tower network telecommunications companies?

Over half of the world’s population has internet access and some device to access the internet with, most commonly a smartphone. Yet most people still rely on assorted telecommunications companies to call and connect to the net. Telecommunications companies are still needed as long as their are landline connections, but with the world constantly becoming increasingly mobile and with so many people completely bypassing landlines for smartphones (especially in developing parts of the world where it’s cheaper to buy an inexpensive smartphone or dirt cheap cell phone than install a landline), the services provided by traditional telecommunications companies could potentially be bypassed if Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet project really does take off (no pun intended). For now we need these telecom companies as they still provide us with the essential connectivity infrastructure, yet unless they match or better Elon Musk’s ambitious satellite plans, they could encounter huge challenges. Free public internet in assorted public spaces via normal on the ground cell towers is always increasing across the world. Fast developing countries such as India already have free internet in many railway stations across the country (thanks to Google).

 

Wi Fi from balloons and drones

Google and Facebook both tried to solve the challenge of internet for the entire world. Google tried this via their Project Loon project (“cell towers in the sky”) which via mobile cell towers connected to hot air balloons they tried to connect remote parts of the world to the net. However the problem was that sometimes the balloons would not last in the sky and would soon come crashing down to earth. Facebook tried to solve this via internet powered drones flying above parts of the world lacking internet infrastructure. SpaceX’s project seems the most ambitious yet in solving this challenge.

 

No need for multiple networks and SIM cards to provide your roaming

If every part of the world is connected to the internet via Space X there could be potentially almost no need to use the services of traditional telecommunications companies (This is, of course, not only dependent on Spacelink succeeding, but on decreasing costs of sending satellites into space). It is always a pain to change SIM cards whenever travelling to a different part of the globe. Even if there are a clutch of competing online telecom startups offering SIM cards that can be used in almost every country and traditional telecom companies are offering services where existing national SIM cards can be used in many other countries (though often at high costs), it is still a rather cumbersome way of connecting the world when one considers all the future possibilities. Sending satellites into space may currently be vastly expensive but as more companies tap into the very nascent space industry and the technology to explore and enter space improves and becomes cheaper and safer, costs for satellite powered internet will go down dramatically. Hopefully Musk’s ambitious project will set a new bar for others to follow suit and maybe even match or better what he is doing.

 

The end of mobile numbers for instant connectivity

With access to a super fast public internet connection wherever you go in every part of the world, there is no need to even have your own mobile number (even if online video/messenger services like WhatsApp still require it – for now) and anyone from any part of the world can instantly connect to each other. This provides the ultimate instant connectivity transcending all networks and other connectivity services. I suppose with Facebook being the social media site with the highest number of users at close to almost two billion, it’s Messenger service is the closest thing for over 25% of the world to instantly connect and communicate with one another without a mobile number and only an internet connection.

In the wake of this it is crazy to think that for far too long we have relied on a plethera of large global telecommunications to provide us with our daily connections. Of course at this moment, the infrastructure provided by these telecommunications companies are still vital for our daily connectivity and on-the-go roaming. Yet Space X’s Starlink satellite project has the power to revolutionise the way we all connect if most if not all of the world has a state of the art internet connection. Having the entire world connected to the internet you have the quintessential Smart World of every corner of the world connected to the net. What’s more there’s a parity in terms of connection with everywhere having an equally super fast connection. This also has the potential to dramatically speed up the development of developing/undeveloped nations.

 

By Nicholas Peart

©All Rights Reserved

 

Other useful links…

https://edgylabs.com/spacex-satellite-network-soon-to-be-named-starlink/
More info on Space X’s Starlink project

Video link below illustrating Space X’s plans to establish satellite internet for the entire world…

The Death Of David Bowie, The Future and 3D Printing

This is a piece I wrote on January 12th 2016, a couple of days after David Bowie died

I’ve been thinking about nothing but David Bowie these last couple of days. So many of his songs are playing in my head; Sound and Vision and Heroes being the most popular. Heroes always makes me pause and be deeply pensive. There’s something majestic and timeless about that song. Like millions of others around the world I am saddened and shocked by his early death. I had no idea he was so unwell even though I was a little suspicious that something was not right regarding his sporadic movements over the last decade. Another clue that perhaps all was not well was from watching the video to the 2013 song Where Are We Now? from his penultimate album The Next Day. It’s a beautiful, haunting and deeply reflective song. More importantly, it seems to me like he’s seriously questioning his own mortality. When I initially saw the video to that song I could see real pain in his face and I began to feel very sad for him.

In my selfish state of mind I was hoping that he would tour again but I can now kiss that option goodbye. I remember one day back in 2003 pondering on whether to see him live at Wembley Arena. The Dandy Warhols were confirmed as his support band. That day I was at the Stargreen ticket office on Argyll Street in Oxford Circus and the lady at the desk told me they still had tickets left for the show but I foolishly declined on the grounds that I thought the £65 ticket price was too high. As the years went by and I got more deeply into Bowie’s music the desire to see him live increased exponentially but that was never to be as, after a heart attack in 2004, he retreated into splendid isolation with his beautiful wife Iman and the rest of his family. I have seen his compadre Iggy Pop live many times (and I even saw his other soul brother Lou Reed live once but he was dreadful and in a foul mood that day, which was a huge disappointment for me) and as special as Iggy will always be to me, I still regret not taking that unique opportunity to see David live. But life goes on man.

Taking a slight tangent, I often wonder what kind of people the people born today and in the last few years will grow up to be? I don’t know what the world is going to be like in 2020 let alone in 2030 or 2050. I humbly predict that by 2100 there will be no purely organic/biological human life still standing. I think by then all humans will be at least trans-human (half human/half machine). If the inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil’s 2045 prediction for ‘The Singularity’ comes true then by 2050 artificial intelligence will be on par if not far more advanced than human intelligence. The question now is will this advanced level of AI further benefit our lives? Perhaps we can augment our bodies with AI technology in order to be compatible with AI itself as far as logical/mechanical intelligence is concerned? Or will it have dystopian consequences and wipe us all out? Some prominent figures such as the scientist Stephan Hawking and Tesla founder Elon Musk have already publicly expressed much concern that a situation like the latter may very well happen and Musk has even gone as far as to spend a large chunk of his vast fortune on AI research.

By the beginning of the 2020s I predict that 3D printing will slowly start to become mainstream. Currently 3D printing machines are the preserve of scientists and a smattering of ‘geeks’, innovators and early adapters. It is also still rather expensive to acquire a 3D printer but with time costs will decrease and the technology will only get more advanced. I think 3D printing will be the biggest thing to shape our lives since the Internet. 3D printing now is what the Internet was back in 1994/5. Give it time.

Now back to the subject of David Bowie, there is an interview he did with Jeremy Paxman in 2000. At one point in the interview they were talking about the Internet and what it meant back then. Paxman seemed to have little belief in the power of the Internet and stated that he thought it was just a ‘tool’ whereas David disagreed and saw it as potentially a much bigger and larger force (both good and bad) to what it currently was. In fact, Bowie was one of the first major artists to utilise the Internet as a platform for his music when it had just become mainstream back in 1997. Now let’s fast forward to 2016. The Internet plays an enormous role in our lives. It has also disrupted many industries in the process. The one that really springs to mind is the music industry. Many will remember the Napster saga involving members of Metallica back in 1999 but how many back then could have foreseen the colossal impact that illegal downloading would have on an entire industry worth billions of dollars? For many creative people; especially writers, musicians and digital photographers, this is now the age of Free Content. Yet what the Internet has enabled is an instant connectivity and strong social networking facility with an enormous and growing number of people around the globe, which was not possible before.

 

David Bowie talks about the Internet with Jeremy Paxman (2000)

 

Back to 3D printing. The main casualty of this emerging technology is going to be the mass manufacturing industry. “Made In China” will become a thing of the past as every household becomes a factory. Big mass manufacturing businesses like IKEA will either have to adapt in the face of this growing technology or potentially face serious challenges to their current business modal. I believe that the next 5-15 years are going to be very interesting.

For more information on this I highly recommend that you purchase a copy of The Curve by Nicholas Lovell. It is a riveting and incredibly insightful and enlightening book which is very ahead of its time. Furthermore, it is an indispensable book to have with many helpful and practical solutions if you are a creative person struggling to make a living in a world of free content.

 

by Nicholas Peart

12th January 2016
London

 

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