Artificial Intelligence Revolution

board game business challenge chess

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

You say you want a revolution? Ready or not, a revolution is coming. It’s coming for you and me. It’s coming soon. You might want to try to hold onto your job. And your dignity. But good luck with that.

“The real battles that lie ahead will lack the apocalyptic drama of Hollywood blockbusters, but they will disrupt the structure of our economic and political systems all the same. Looming before us in the coming decades is an AI-driven crisis of jobs, inequality and meaning. The new technology will wipe out a huge portion of work as we’ve known it, dramatically widening the wealth gap and posing a challenge to the human dignity of us all.”

AI stands for Artificial Intelligence. If you want to be cool and appear in the know, you can begin dropping the AI acronym into your conversation or writing whenever possible.

The above quote is from a long piece written by Kai-Fu Lee in the Sept. 15-16 weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal. (I’m not in the habit of reading the WSJ, because I own no stocks and no bonds. But I sometimes pick it up if Publix is sold out of the NYT. Maybe I should read the WSJ more often? But I digress.) The article is entitled “The Human Promise Of The AI Revolution.” (See, I didn’t make up the “revolution” part.) Here’s another chilling quote from the WSJ article:

“This unprecedented disruption requires no new scientific breakthrough in AI, just the application of existing technology to new problems. It will hit many white-collar professionals just as hard as it hits blue-collar factory workers.”

Gosh, I’ve been focusing my worry on global warming, climate change, and the rising sea level. (And Donald Trump, of course. But I promise not to digress in that direction.) Now I have to worry about artificial intelligence as well? No problem. I have a nearly unlimited capacity for Worry, with a capital “W.”

Global Warming and Artificial Intelligence

After reading the aforementioned article, I can see similarities between Global Warming and Artificial Intelligence. Both sound like science fiction with hints of apocalypse.

Both promise unprecedented change with astonishing but uncertain consequences. Many people hope and believe that humans will be able to exert some degree of control over both global warming and artificial intelligence. (This is the “It might not be too late” school of optimism.)

Most folks have heard about global warming, but hope its most dangerous consequences are way off in the future. Many folks have not heard about artificial intelligence. Yet. But  if they have, they assume it is way off in the future.

Many people are aware that global warming has probably been happening for some time. Many acknowledge that we are already experiencing the first effects of global warming and climate change, manifesting as annoying shifts in weather patterns and apparent increase in the size and frequency of catastrophic storms.

However, it hasn’t dawned on many folks that artificial intelligence, like global warming, is already happening. Both global warming and artificial intelligence are HERE, NOW.

A Glacier And A Locomotive

I think I can get away with one more quote from the Kai-Fu Lee article in the WSJ. After all, I’m going to give him free publicity for his forthcoming book.

“The AI revolution will be of the magnitude of the Industrial Revolution — but probably larger and definitely faster. Where the steam engine only took over physical labor, AI can perform both intellectual and physical labor. And where the Industrial Revolution took centuries to spread beyond Europe and the U.S., AI applications are already being adopted simultaneously all across the world.”

Larger and faster than the Industrial Revolution!!!

Here’s my interpretation: Global warming is moving — not as slowly as a glacier, perhaps — but slowly, in terms of human years.

Global warming can make big changes in the lifetime of one human.

Artificial Intelligence, meanwhile, is moving more like a speeding locomotive — more like dog years than human years.

Artificial intelligence can make big changes in the lifetime of one dog.

And what about that Kai-Fu Lee book? It is “AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley and the New World Order.” There’s a title to strike fear into the heart. The book is scheduled to be published next week, Sept. 25, by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. So says the WSJ.

And who is this guy Kai-Fu Lee? Never heard of him. He appears to have serious credentials in the brave new world of AI. You could Google him.

— John Hayden

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God Has A Tiger By The Tail, Reading List

Here are three recent books, any one of which might give you nightmares. They’re a follow-up on my first post of 2016, “God Has A Tiger By The Tail.”

  • “Flash Points: The Emerging Crisis in Europe,” by George Friedman, published 2015.
  • “Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath,” by Ted Koppel, published 2015.
  • “This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. The Climate,” by Naomi Klein, which was included in the New York Times Book Review list of 100 Notable Books of 2014.

The subtitles above are self-explanatory. The authors need no introduction. Continue reading

Winter Without Frost

A panoramic windshield on a 1959 Edsel Corsair...

Windshield on a 1959 Edsel Corsair. (Photo via Wikipedia)

WINTER WITHOUT FROST — I’ve seen frost on the windshield only once so far this winter. When I was a kid, we had frost on the windshields nearly every winter morning. Folks had to scrape off the ice and let the engine warm up for five minutes before they could leave for work. (I can hear college students wondering, “Warm up the engine?”)

I live now in the warmest part of Maryland, a mid-Atlantic state with moderate temperatures. But truth is, we used to have ice skating around here. — John

December Sunshine @ The Beach

pine tree on bdwk

Seventy degrees in December! It’s not unheard of in Maryland, although normal temps would be in the 40s during the day, maybe 30s at night.

But throughout the northern U.S.? Seventy degrees in December in Chicago? Temperature records are being broken in some places. Winter’s off to a mild start. (Reality check: Don’t get too excited. Winter doesn’t officially begin until Dec. 21.)  I’m trying not to be complacent. A blizzard might slap us in the face when we least expect it.

December is always a variable month here in Maryland. We rarely get snow before Christmas. But we don’t often enjoy 70 degrees, either. The photo above was taken a few days ago at the south end of the Ocean City boardwalk. Too bad there’s not many people here to enjoy it, except us year-rounders.

Seventy in December. Global warming? You think?

— John Hayden

Lessons From Hurricane Sandy — Part 1 of Many Parts

It's global warming, stupid

(Photo credit: scriptingnews)

A respectable business magazine is out with the cover headline:

“It’s Global Warming, Stupid”

Fair enough. Quibble about the causes and terminology, if you must, but face reality.

I suggest two related subjects clamoring for serious consideration in the public square (or in smoke-filled back rooms) going forward:

“Geography Is Destiny”

And:

“It’s Infrastructure, Stupid”

What do you think? Suggestions for additional subjects to include in the syllabus? Extra credit for class participation.

— John Hayden