Today’s entire human society is experiencing the earliest beginnings of an unfathomably rapid and expansively impactful information technology revolution, one which promises to have profound transformational effects upon lives and livelihoods of current and future generations.
Dystopian predictions warn that artificial intelligence and AI-enabled automation will have hazardously disruptive effects upon society – putting people out of work and adding to income inequality. Simultaneously, ubiquitous personal data mining, surveillance tracking, and social media censorship signal an ever-more ominous Orwellian trend.
Global populations, America included, are trading away more and more of their personal privacy for promises of increased technological convenience and security. This tradeoff gives credence to a “boiling frog” analogy where the doomed critter in a shallow pan of water placed over a flame complacently adjusts its body temperature until it is too late to jump out.
More optimistic prognosticators contend that just as all of the previous technical revolutions profoundly increased human productivity, wellbeing and lifespans, AI will make human society better. They point out that once again, while this revolution will eliminate some jobs, it will also create opportunities for new ones that will require and enable more people to think smarter.
AI, the Internet and social media are enabling people to work more effectively, offering more freedom to live and work where they prefer, providing instant and unbounded access to life and work-enhancing information, and connecting us from anywhere to everywhere else.
This book strives to be neither utopian nor apocalyptical. Nevertheless, there is always an unrealistic natural tendency to assume that tomorrow will resemble our positive and negative experiences today, only a little bit different—or maybe extremely so—instead of recognizing that we are in the middle of an unknowably disruptive change.