Scenario 1 – Productivity Gains Allow Humans to Focus on Being Human
Let’s start with a positive scenario. After all, technology provides an unprecedented opportunity to build a brighter and better future. Modern technology, especially AI and robotics, could well lead to monumental increases in productivity. This could extend to making it easier to feed the growing world population, improve health, longevity, quality of water and food. It may even enable a framework for basic income for all. However, this would require us to rethink our political and social systems and the purpose of humans, as most of the issues and developments happen on a global scale.
Scenario 2 – Inequality is on the Rise
While the advancements in artificial intelligence enable high productivity, this also translates as wealth for its creators which can cause economic inequality. Those not leading the development in AI have less chance to compete. The health and longevity of a few improve significantly, while the rest of the population falls behind and can hardly catch up again. This leads to extreme instability and suffering with social unrest.
Scenario 3 – AI Warfare and Terrorism
We are beginning to see the negative sides of technology, with automated drones and intelligent cyber warfare being exploited by people with evil or destructive intentions. As the machines become extremely powerful and super intelligent, regular defenses might not be sufficient or the good side will always lose, leading to an unstoppable downward spiral. The only way to compete is to use better AI, resulting in a worldwide arms race that consumes most resources.
Scenario 4: The Cyborg vs. Superintelligent Machine
We have evolved as cyborgs for many decades. Everything from electronic hearing aids and cardiac pacemakers to even smartwatches and smartphones have expanded our capabilities of living, problem solving, communicating significantly. As the technology becomes ever more advanced, it can greatly augment human capabilities in our favor. If scientists and companies work on solving the machine brain interface, like Elon Musk’s Neuralink is attempting, we might be able to directly tap into super intelligence. Just like the evolution of the neo cortex (the outer part of the brain) this connection would act as an additional layer of our brain, giving us super intelligence while still being human at heart. Some consider this the end of homosapiens. Elon Musk seems to think that is the only way we can keep super intelligence from destroying humans.
No one can forecast these scenarios. The future evolves one step at a time. We believe, that we are all in for an amazing ride with an unclear ending, it has always been that way. But we think that you and your organization should not become too obsessed with these unclear scenarios. You have a job to do today. AI is a promising new technology, that can help you achieve new dimensions in your offerings. It is a welcome opportunity for creating higher customer value and reducing your operational costs. So focus on delivering that today.