Proyecto Visión 21

I can’t see the future, but I know it looks quite challenging

Francisco Miraval

I don’t possess any prophetic gift or divinatory powers, so I can’t see nor anticipate the future. However, it is fairly clear the future is no longer just a continuation of the past and, whatever the future will bring, it is going to be challenging and interesting.

If the trends said to arrive in 2016 would actually happen, that is, if the experts are correct, then 2016 could be the year of World War III. Obviously, that will lead to many social and political changes. At the same time, there will be many disruptive innovations.

Not so long ago, after the terrorist attacks in Paris, Pope Francis spoke about World War III. And trend analyst Gerald Celente included that catastrophic event in his annual report for 2016 in his Trends Journal. So, you have two very different people with two very different missions agreeing about a global war. At best, that’s interesting. At worst… you draw your own conclusion.

It is almost unthinkable that we may face a new global conflict. In fact, I don’t even want to think about it. Yet, it seems there is another almost unthinkable challenge waiting for us in 2016: the conflict between humans and advanced artificial intelligence.

According to Celente, 2016 will be the year when we humans will delegate in intelligent robots more and more non-physical tasks, such as education or experiences. It seems robots will be happy to assume those new tasks which until now we thought were (almost) exclusively human.

I have not reasons to blindly accept that Celente is right about intelligent robots, yet I have no reason to reject what he says. Perhaps it is true that starting this year intelligent robots will be part of our daily life and will begin to replace us.

After all, just a year ago Bill Gates said he was “concerned about super intelligence” and that he didn’t understand “why some people are not concerned” with the arrival of artificial intelligence superior to human intelligence.

In 2014, Tesla CEO Elon Musk promised $10 million to the Future of Life Institute, “to fund research grants investigating potentially negative implications.” And just a few weeks ago Musk promised hundreds of millions of dollars for a new nonprofit organization, OpenAI, whose focus is to proven artificial intelligence from taking over our planet.

Also, world-renown scientist Stephen Hawkings said a year ago said that “The primitive forms of artificial intelligence we already have, have proved very useful”, but “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race”.

According to Hawkings, “Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete (with artificial intelligence) and would be superseded.” Alarming words coming from one of the most intelligent persons of our time.

I can’t see the future, but those who have studied it agree that this year we will see deep changes in our lives. I wonder what kind of intelligence, biological or artificial, will be writing weekly commentaries in a year from now.

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