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Paul Hair is a national security expert and an author. He writes under his own name and as a ghostwriter. Connect with him at http://www.liberateliberty.com/. Contact him at paul@liberateliberty.com.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Artificial Intelligence and the Future

Artificial intelligence continues improving and recent developments hint that long-term forecasts of what it could eventually become might not be as far-fetched as they initially appear.

I’m an independent consultant for Wikistrat, a private-sector company that provides strategic planning, geopolitical and economic analysis, and forecasting and risk management solutions. One of the forecasting simulations we did in late 2013 was, “Time “Person of the Year” 2014-2100.” This simulation had Wikistrat analysts forecast who might be picked as the Time Magazine Person of the Year for the years 2014-2100. (The final report summarized some of the selections and is available to download for free.)

The particular scenario that I worked on the most was called, “Robo-Bob.” And despite the pedestrian name it provided a detailed scenario on what artificial intelligence (AI) might look like by 2100. And that forecast isn’t necessarily a good future. From The Diplomatic Courier extract of it:
“Three hundred and eleven years after the American Constitution was ratified, representative democracy made way for direct democracy in the form of Robo-Bob, a machine that reflects the collective will of the American public—and the culmination of a decade-long research project to more accurately determine the will of the American people. Under the Robo-Bob system, citizens provide data about their political preferences through various networks and devices. In turn, big data centers optimize the resulting political decisions for the greater good through validated economic and value algorithms. Rather than relying on polls and advisors, the President of the United States now relies on nearly perfect information provided by Robo-Bob to execute the administrative and political functions enumerated under the Constitution. . . . 
“A long time in the making, Robo-Bob engendered remarkably little controversy when it became the primary advisory tool to the President in January 2100. Representative democracy, along with its rent-seeking practitioners, had long fallen out of favor and elements of direct democracy had been experimented with for decades. Furthermore, society had changed. The rugged individualism that was characteristic of American society (for real or in legend) had long since given way to networks and collective intelligence. Those die were cast in the infancy of the internet age.”
Such a forecast is mere speculation at this point but it is far from outlandish. The Daily Mail published an article on the May 19 reporting on a recent AI development:
Robots have been creeping into our homes, streets and cities – and soon they could be dominating our boardrooms. 
In a world first, Japanese venture capital firm Deep Knowledge recently named an artificial intelligence (AI) to its board of directors. 
The robot, named Vital, was chosen for its ability to pick up on market trends ‘not immediately obvious to humans’. 
Vital is an ‘equal member’ of the Hong Kong-based group and the first ever software program to be appointed as a board member. 
The robot was developed by Aging Analytics UK who have licensed it out to Deep Knowledge to help make business decisions on therapies for age-related diseases. 
Vital (Validating Investment Tool for Advancing Life Sciences) will analyse trends in databases of life science companies in an effort to predict successful investments. 
The bot has already helped make two major investment decisions in life science companies, Pathway Pharmaceuticals and InSilico Medicine. 
The long-term goal is to get Vital’s intelligence to the stage where it can operate autonomously when making investment decisions. 
Eventually, the software is expected to get an equal vote on all financial decisions made by the company.
People have wildly different assessments of how powerful AI might someday become but it has significantly advanced in recent years and is something to continue watching as it develops.

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