If I had to choose one picture to explain how technology is changing our world, it would be the one attached below.
What you're seeing in this picture is three different versions of a cable joint. The one on the left was entirely designed and built by humans. The one in the middle was design-assisted by artificial intelligence and 3D printed. The one on the right was designed entirely by artificial intelligence and 3D printed; the only human involvement was to input the design parameters.
How does this relate to our ability to imagine the future?
With the increasingly powerful algorithms behind machine learning and AI, humans will play an ever smaller role in the design of the world around us, how societies function and how individuals interact with it. Like the third component in the picture, we can't imagine the future because we won't be the ones creating it. In short, because of the machines we have built - and the ones we are building right now - we are on the cusp of a world in which machines have more say over our world than we do.
Looking over recent events in politics, we can already see the outsized role that technology is beginning to play. The impetus to end lockdowns in the US amid the covid-19 pandemic were largely driven by fake Twitter accounts operated by bots. There were still humans behind these bots, but the overwhelming majority of the activity was generated completely by algorithms.
If that makes you uneasy, how will you feel once most of the products and services you consume - and most of the 'decisions' you make - are not just assisted and influenced by algorithms, but made entirely by them? Elon Musk may have the compromise solution. With his recently announced Neuralink technology, the door is now open to connect our minds directly with computers. With luck, technologies like this will preserve some small role for us in the world of tomorrow.
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