Almost 200 years after Mary Shelley made AI an object of fear and awe in Frankenstein, humanity is looking at a proliferation of super-smart creations: robots. As tech and publishing guru Kevin Kelly writes in his brand new book The Inevitable, out in June, automated technology of all sorts – from industrial to humanoid to seemingly harmless conveyors of “artificial smartness” – will soon transform our lives. (Some already have, like your calculator, the automatic braking in your cars, or Siri). But need we fear it? Will AI take our jobs away? Or will robots, by handling all the mechanics and rote work necessary for economic productivity, liberate us to be more creative, caring and “humanly intelligent”? What, in the end, can humans do that machines cannot?

KK4Aug15I sat down with Kevin Kelly to get some answers, as he lays them out in his new book.

Kevin Kelly started as a photojournalist, in the US and in remote areas of Asia, before working as publisher and editor of the Whole Earth Review, from 1984 to 1990, which became the first consumer publication to report in significant ways on AI, VR, ecological restoration, the global teenager, and Internet culture. In 1993, he launched Wired magazine, where he was Executive Editor and is now “Senior Maverick.” Under him, it won the National Magazine Award for General Excellence (the Oscars of the industry) twice. He has since written multiple books and has been involved with a variety of long-term, deep-thinking technological projects. The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future is available in bookstores and on Amazon in June.


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There are 3 comments.

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  1. I Walton Member
    I Walton

    Worth listening to. A couple of observations. He doesn’t write out government regulators, but the economy he addresses cannot be regulated by the government. He admits as much when he speaks of the kind of vigilance required, with constant adjustment, allowing failure, rewriting laws as we learn. Only digital interactions of individuals and private entities can and will make these adjustments. A centralized government will never have the capacity to stay on top of a market process that will be even more complicated than existing markets as it includes all goods and service plus these digital interactions by individuals with other individuals. Large centralized government is already obsolete except for national defense and will become even more so. Good clear relevant law will be necessary however and that will be challenge enough and will have to be centralized but also minimized and exist in some relationship with new private entities. Our private sector economy has moved well beyond the capacity of regulators to manage. Their efforts cause the stagnation and slow adjustment that beset us. The future arrangements between evolving protocols, industry standards, algorithms, and some sort of political authority will be among the most challenging things this economy will face. Government as we know it will fight it all the way as they try to find ways to milk it or stop it from hurting constituents that fear it as we see with uber and airbnb.

    • #1
  2. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel

    No A.I. is required for automatic breaking — cars have been automatically breaking when the warranty runs out for decades. Automatic braking, on the other hand, is a pretty cool new technology. No A.I. there, though. Just better proximity sensors (radar, lidar, ultrasonics, etc.) that allow a car to compute the physics of stopping before hitting an obstacle. Industry had been doing that in control loops long before computers came along.

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  3. Blue Yeti Admin
    Blue Yeti

    Fixed, thanks for the heads up.

    • #3