Our mind can’t process the concept of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Not yet. AI is categorized as a very geeky thing, only understood by hordes of scientists working in IBM, Google and the likes.
AI is still not clear in the mind of the masses. That’s why, AI will be the “NEXT” big thing, and is not “THE ACTUAL” big thing. AI will take off when the masses understand the opportunities that AI can bring to them.
Let me tell you what i mean.
Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos did it before.
Steve jobs made people better understand the power of the internet. It took him 50 years to achieve that. It’s neither the Macintosh, nor the IPod that made the leap in people’s minds. It’s the whole experience that Steve delivered in 2007, with the launch of the IPhone. That’s the event where Steve gave the final blow to people’s mind. He showed the world the opportunities that the internet can bring to them. Why? In 2017, 10 years after the iPhone launch, the app store reached 2,200,000,000 apps. That’s 2.2 billion ideas that have been implemented. If you consider that only 20% of ideas get implemented, that’s more than 10 billions ideas that Steve Job triggered with the release of the IPhone. It’s neither the phone, nor the computer, nor the software; it’s the staggering holistic experience that made people finally understand how they can use the internet to gain wealth. It’s as if people said “Now we get what you mean Steve”. Steve Jobs made people understand the opportunities that the internet can bring to them. That’s a legacy that Steve truly deserves to be recognized for.
Jeff Bezos made people understand the power of e-commerce. From books, to electronics, to fresh food, to one click purchase, to 4 hours delivery, Jeff managed stimulate our minds. It took him 20 years to achieve that. The masses today understand the opportunities that e-commerce bring to them. It’s a no brainer. Because our mind can process it, thanks to Jeff.
Elon Musk and Satoshi Nakamoto are doing it.
Elon Musk is on the way of making people understand the opportunities that renewable energy can bring to them. From electric cars, to solar panel tiles, to space X, to the mission to Mars, Elon clearly has a message to convey, one that will stimulate people’s minds. But he didn’t nail it yet. The Tesla car experience is amazing, but not everyone can afford it. Solar panel tiles are cool, but too expensive, not accessible to the masses. One day, Elon will release a staggering experience, accessible to the masses, that will push their mind to properly process renewable energy. Imagine 10 billion ideas generated by people around renewable energy…
Satoshi Nakamoto is on the way of conveying the power of cryptography. How many people talked (and are still talking) about BitCoin? What is interesting, is that crypto is not about currency. Currency is one aspect of crypto. Being a Computer Engineer, I can tell you the world of crypto is huge, we still didn’t scratch it’s surface. But still, no one managed to stimulate the masses. We might need many more white papers from Satoshi to reach the tipping point. In fact, Satoshi, with the secrecy around his/her identity, and the nature of the application he/she decided to showcase, conveyed a very dark and negative sentiment around crypto. Crypto deserves to be elevated to a whole new level to be properly processed by our brain.
The race for AI.
AI is definitely not a new topic. Although the term Artificial Intelligence is quite new, the concept of AI has been a fantasy for humans since antiquity.
It goes far back to the greeks. Greek myths of Hephaestus and Pygmalion incorporated the idea of intelligent robots (such as Talos) and artificial beings (such as Galatea and Pandora)
In the 17th century, philosophers like Gottfried Leibniz, Thomas Hobbes and René Descartes explored the possibility that all rational thought could be made as systematic as algebra or geometry.They went as far as reaching a theory where a universal language of reasoning would reduce argumentation to calculation, so that "there would be no more need of disputation between two philosophers than between two accountants”. These philosophers had begun to articulate that hypothesis, which would become the guiding faith of AI research.
In the 20th century, the study of mathematical logic provided the essential breakthrough that made AI seem plausible. Mathematicians reached a conclusion that any form of mathematical reasoning could be mechanized. They concluded that a mechanical device, shuffling symbols as simple as 0 and 1, could imitate any conceivable process of mathematical deduction. That’s the Turing machine principle. This revelation would inspire a handful of scientists to begin discussing the possibility of thinking machines.
The term Artificial Intelligence was created by John McCarthy in 1956. AI research was officially founded at a workshop held on the campus of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, United States, during the summer of that same year. In that workshop, scientists predicted that a machine as intelligent as a human being would exist in no more than a generation and they were given millions of dollars to make this vision come true. Nevertheless, hardware limitation disillusioned investors and governments, and the AI project turned into an AI winter.
It’s only in the second decade of the 21st century that AI came back to light, with the boom of cloud computing, and the introduction of quantum computing.
Between 1956 and today, nothing stoped people from predicting, imagining and evangelizing the future of AI.
A clear AI depiction came with Arthur C. Clarke novel “2001: A Space Odessi”, and its adaptation by Stanley Kubrick in a movie under the same name released in 1968. The story featured an AI computer, called HAL, considered a dependable member of a spaceship crew, maintaining ship functions and engaging genially with its human crew-mates on an equal footing. HAL is shown capable of speech, speech recognition, facial recognition, natural language processing, lip reading, art appreciation, interpreting emotional behavior, automated reasoning, and playing chess.
In 1985, Steve Jobs revealed to students in Lunds University, Sweden, that his dream is to reach a level in technology, where anyone can have a one to one conversation with Aristotle.
In 1997, IBM’s Deep Blue chess machine defeats the world chess champion, Garry Kasparov
in 2011, IBM’s Watson computer defeated the television game show Jeopardy.
So we’ve been fed the idea of AI as a science fiction thing. We’ve been put under the impression that only giant firms and great minds can understand AI and make use of it.
The way AI was pitched to the masses is completely misleading. A machine that beats humans at chess? A computer that controls a spaceship? A discussion with Aristotle? How would people relate to AI? Even If if they do relate, it’s not a good enough to make them stimulate their mind and start seeing the practical opportunities that AI can bring to them.
Why is AI a big thing anyway?
To answer this question, we need to understand how AI works.
AI is a piece of software that learns and acts based on data it has access to.
Let’s assume your Phone is an AI device. Imagine the amount of data that your phone can gather about you within a week. Let’s list some:
First call every day, last call every day, number of calls during week days, number of calls during the week end, nature of apps you use, games you play, messages you send, messages you receive, pictures you take, videos you watch…
Now imagine this phone can process this data. What will your phone learn about you?
Sleeping patterns, languages you speak, who you love, who you trust, who you hate, who you lie to, when you lie, when you say the truth, when you’re frustrated, when you’re cool, where is your comfort zone, …
Now let’s assume that this phone can take action. For example, imagine you decide to take a day off, and ask your phone to take care of your day. The phone can answer your calls, reply to your emails, manage your calendar, order your food, buy your daily groceries, like your favorite posts on LinkedIn, share your friends’ pictures on instagram, …
That’s only within a week. Imagine this phone with you for a month. For a year. For a decade. What would this phone turn into?
Are you getting it? That’s AI. It’s not about robots, spaceships, chess and voice assistants. It is a technology that gathers information from various sources, processes that information, and takes informed decisions.
Imagine what AI can do for business. Healthcare. Government. You name it.
That’s why AI is a BIG THING. And that’s why AI is the NEXT big thing…
How far is “NEXT”?
In my opinion, the first real impact made by AI on the masses happened with the release of Amazon Echo, better known as Alexa. The simplicity behind this product is staggering. At last, after 3000 years of AI fantasy, people have access to an affordable small device that speaks and understands human language.
But that’s just the first step. If ALEXA is the most advanced consumer AI device we have access to today, we’re still far from an AI revolution. We still don’t sense a boom in AI. The tipping point has not been reached yet. There is still a big barrier in our mind on what AI can bring to the table.
In the business world, according to Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM, we’re going towards what she calls the “Cognitive Enterprise”. The company that “Thinks”. AI will be deeply embedded into the company’s infrastructure and will start learning its processes, practices, culture, markets, … With time, AI will start assisting employees and taking informed business decision based on historical, real time and predictive insights.
Mark Benihoff, CEO and Co-Founder of Salesforce.com, called his AI software “Einstein”. It took Mark 15 years to integrate AI into the enterprise Sales process and to convey to sales people the opportunities that AI can bring to them. Today, Einstein assists sales people by predicting the behavior of their customers and potential prospects.
So… AI is a very hype subject. Thousands of engineers and entrepreneurs are taking advantage of the ignorance of the masses, to release smart products and solutions and make staggering profits. It’s just like the early days of electronic games (Think Atari, Sega, Nintendo, …).
The race for AI is now. And this race will end the day AI becomes a big thing. When AI becomes a big thing, entrepreneurs and big firms will turn to look for the “NEXT” big thing.
So if you understand AI, you have 2 opportunities:
Think small, create products and make lot of money
Think big, stimulate the mind of the masses and enter the hall of fame