The areas in which AI’s will help us to solve problems are many. I believe that once we have real general AI (https://www.poindo.org/impact-of-artificial-intelligence/) with all it’s pros and cons we can expect some extraordinary results in problem solving. My point in case would be the creation of complete world simulations in order to predict outcome of certain actions as well as have actors (general AI “beings”) come up with solutions on their own.
What? WAIT! I hear you scream – AI “actors” coming up with solutions on their own? How is that possible as only the human can think…
That only humans can think or be creative is sadly a huge misconception. Machines might not be aware that they output useful results for us that we consider “thoughts” but they can churn them out faster and in many cases already better than humans do. There are many systems already that can solve problems by trial and error or by application of learned behavior. Chess computers are one example, Googles Go playing platform, Watson and many more proof that computers are quite capable when it comes to predefined tasks. Once we have general AI a computer will be able to “emulate” basic human skills and can be extended by “features” as in knowledge about certain topics and trained behavior. AI will be able to emulate to comprehend, conclude, create. It does not matter if it is “sentient”. The moment the AI can measure if a result meets desired parameters it can create goal oriented solutions.
I predict we will see world simulations in which millions or billions of independent actors will be spun up to simulate our planet or fictional economies to solve real world problems. One could claim that it will be impossible to simulate the behavior of a real human but modern marketing already knows better. Today marketers can predict buyer behavior with great certainty.
To create and train your artificial world you would just fill it with parameters you meet in our reality. You create actors that grow up, go to school, learn with varying success based on socioeconomic and other factors, have health based on nutritional choices and exercise and on and on. This might seem to complex at the moment but in 20 years from today, maybe your Iphone 31 XL can run a small world as a game – who knows. I am certain that a large scale computer will easily run many parallel worlds at once with billions of fictitious characters. The environment could be emulated by means of application of all rules of nature we will understand by then. At some point we will uncover the underlying mechanics of reality and have our virtual environment be created of the same (then simulated) Higgs field as our current reality and our AI’s will be able to solve environmental problems and others. It will be possible to create medication and “test it on virtual humans”. This might take a few more years beyond the 20 but is certainly in our future.
As a world that is virtual can be run at any desired speed, there isn’t any limit to the amount of simulations that can be performed. You could run 100 years of political scenarios in 2 seconds including an entire planet with it’s events.
We could solve very complex problems with this technology!
If we could create the above machines, I imagine running a multiverse of parallel worlds that run variations in solutions. Successful concepts in one world you could “bleed” into the other worlds by introducing ideas/dreams into the virtual minds of “scientists” in other simulated worlds. This way you would also see how all these ideas work together. To accomplish this you would create a system to measure what’s “desirable” for us. You could take factors such as health impact, cost, time to build, availability, emotional impact, environmental impact and measure all virtual worlds like that. Every time one world spikes positively on these measurements you take the source of this desirable spike and introduce the concept into the other worlds. To save computing power you could always calculate only the differences between all worlds.
Imagine the impact of machines like that. To solve ocean problems you could create vast amounts of ocean planets which “grow” experts in treating oceans. I know all this sounds way “out there” but we will get there sooner or later and if current predictions hold place, 20 years might be pessimistic.
The applications of above machines will be vast. At some point I would imaging that all that could be simulated, will be simulated. As mind/machine interfaces will advance some people might even connect their mind to such machines and simulate their very own decisions in split seconds. Imagine a marketer can think about slogans for a new product while getting instant feedback from his world simulations including financial predictions.
As with all technology we now need to stop and think where this journey will ultimately lead us to. There are many that say technology is a “natural” step in evolution. I would say that our ability to think those thoughts are a natural step in evolution. Executing it and transforming all of our biology might be not the best path at all. It reminds me of these conspiracies where “gray aliens” come back from the future because they lost the ability to reproduce and trashed their own DNA by the use of technology. That might be a science fiction story but never less a very probable one. Just by NOT deciding to go this path now we can help our future selves to prevent this from happening:-) So why even taking this risk, right?
I hope that we as the human race begin to wake up to the possibility that we might have outpaced our comprehension and could stumble unprepared into something that we won’t be able to stop anymore.
I don’t say that we have to condemn technology, it is not only too late, it would be also the wrong step. I do say however that we must speak about governance now. We can’t wait any longer.
For a very long time the general public did not care about any of these thoughts and they were deemed science fiction and it was en vogue to laugh about it – These times have changed. I remember the “flip phone” from star trek (“Kirk to enterprise”) – yes, that’s a joke now. My iPhone is way cooler. If the majority of researchers is correct computers will have reached human like intelligence by 2027. That’s 10 years from now. 10 years my dear readers. Let’s co-create the future today!