Pop culture plays a huge rule in inspiring innovation. As you look at the timeline above, what events on the timeline do you remember that may have inspired you to embrace or further improve your own technical skills? What events do you see that you may not have even considered? For example, to see artificial intelligence in the form of a bronze automaton named Talos back in ancient Greece was a fun fact I encountered while researching the timeline. That said, I propose there is more to this than what we see on the surface. You see, underneath the events and dates is a technological evolution where artificial intelligence as a concept had to continue to incubate and wait for the other technological developments like broadband, high speed processing, low cost storage and cloud, to grow and mature as a platform upon which artificial intelligence could flourish. In 2018, we are now seeing significant development in artificial intelligence on a global scale. To not think these efforts are going to disrupt current business models is the type of thinking that leads to extinction. The buggy whip manufacturers did not believe in the horseless carriage called the automobile. How did that work out for them?
So what is coming in the not so distant future from the world of AI? Great question. Let's look at the timeline again and remember what some of the shows have brought from imagination to reality in order to answer such questions. For example, in Star Trek, we see people speaking to computers to obtain a response. Is this any different from what we see now with Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and Jarvis? What can we expect next? Will we see a full immersion virtual reality similar to the holodeck from Star Trek anytime soon? Perhaps we will see a replicator engineer foods and beverages. The point is that with all that is now available, there is still a long way to go and the prospects of what is to come is both exciting and concerning at the same time. For example, if you are in food service, will robots take your job one day because they do not engage in labor disputes, require a minimum wage, or present risks of sexual harassment lawsuits for the business owners? It's possible. So what do you do to stay competitive and valuable? Perhaps learn how to repair and program robots? But what happens when the AI becomes so sophisticated that other robots can do the programming and repair work? Are we innovating ourselves right out of an income? If so, what happens to a society that cannot fend for itself? These are deep questions we must consider on the road ahead as despite making the world better through innovation, we have a responsibility to help each other thrive. Machines and technology are not always the best answer, even though they may be the cheapest and easiest. People need a purpose other than just consuming goods and services. For consumption to be sustainable, there must be a quid pro quo of value. If the system is disrupted to the point that one can no longer make a living to pay for valuable goods and services, have we really helped mankind, or made things worse?
The point is there must be a moral compass in place during the innovation process. While Waitbot 1.0 might sound like a great idea to a restarant owner, it sounds awful to the single parent who relies on tips to make the rent. But there are other areas where AI can also make a difference. For example, in healthcare, the ability to model drug discovery in order to work through possibilities for curing disease is a very significant development empowered with AI and cloud. But what does successfully eliminating morbid diseases mean for society? Population overloads? Food shortages? Or will technology solve those problems too by combining AI with Green technology?
Innovation is important, but it is equally important to fail certain projects quickly if they do not adhere to your moral compass. Just because we can do something, does not always mean we should.