If you start trembling when hearing the terms ‘Dall E’ and ‘Chat GPT’, be sure you are not alone. Many are afraid of the quick advancement of artificial intelligence (AI), and that’s understandable. After all, if machines can mimic our every action, or even perform it better and faster than us, what makes us special? What makes us superior to them? Are we set to become obsolete? Truth is that together with being somewhat concerned about the future of humanity under the shadow of AI, I feel this can also be a great opportunity for us to reinvent ourselves.
I am Ofir Bar, an investor with about 25 years of experience in varied markets, and a special interest in innovation. My curiosity about artificial intelligence started years back, when a computer named ‘Deep Blue’ managed to defeat Gary Kasparov, the chess grandmaster and world champion. The world was shocked back then, in 1997, as it is these days, as we find that the difference between human and machine intelligence is getting more and more unclear. However, I’m not certain this is necessarily only a bad thing.
From the caves to AI
I always strive to welcome innovation, no matter how scary it may be at first. If it improves something, anything, I’m for it. I know that different people see the term ‘improvement’ differently, but you know what I mean: If robots can perform a delicate medical procedure that no surgeon can do better, let them do it. If robots can drive a car in a safer manner, let them do it. You get the idea. Of course, things can go horribly wrong, and robots can make awful mistakes, but so can humans. Not to mention, robots improve all the time, while we continue making the same mistakes over and over. Radical? Don’t judge me quite yet.
I argue that the sole factor that led us to rule the world — at the expense of other, more powerful creatures than us — is the development of abstract thinking. Meaning, the ability to plan for the far future, as opposed to other living beings. When this shift occurred, we started drifting away from the food chain. Nowadays, we aren’t a part of it. We are above it.
Our ability to think abstractly led us to learn how to assemble tools and use resources to make our lives easier. And as our lives became easier, we started losing physical abilities we no longer needed. This is a process that started tens of thousands of years ago, and it’s still happening now. That’s why when people say something like “we shouldn’t let autonomous cars into our lives, because it would make us dependent”, what I actually hear is “we should’ve never left the caves in the first place”.
Yes, technology is taking away more and more aspects of our lives from us, but it also did that when we started using steam engines and washing machines. Have you ever encountered someone under the age of 90 wishing to handwash their clothes once more? Me neither.
Winds of change
It’s true, intelligent machines and ‘stupid’ machines are very different from each other. If once we thought machines wouldn’t ever be able to be creative, learn independently, and develop new concepts, we now know we were wrong. However, I believe that the idea that we are in competition against artificial intelligence was wrong in the first place
Technology advances all the time, and this can’t be stopped. It shouldn’t. We always strive for a better future, and that’s a good thing. We shouldn’t compete with the machines we create, because further human development depends on us integrating with technology, not overcoming it.
Like any giant leap in technology, such as the industrial revolution and the internet age, the AI revolution requires us to reinvent ourselves, and adjust to the existing reality. We managed to do so before — I know we can do it again.