Thoughts on Upcoming Technologies

22 Feb 2018

At this time, I think there are two areas that I’d like to focus. Apologies for the mainstream nature of the posts. This is all I see on Hacker News lately.

1. Artificial Intelligence

I think this will drastically change our society for the better. AI really has the power to uproot many industries.

Through my experience reading up on it and taking online courses, it seems like we’re so far from this concept called general artificial intelligence. Very far from it. To build a learning machine like a human is from a daunting task. The main reason I would think so is because we as human beings don’t understand enough about ourselves and how our brains work.

I’m willing to bet that we won’t be able to crack it in the next 10 years. But for sure in our lifetime.

Side note: I always read posts about how data hungry modern AI systems are. I get that, but consider us, the humans! We have millions of receptors in our eyes sampling more than 60 frames per second. People are just data collecting machines. We also generate huge amounts of data collected as well. I read some article on the main differentiation between humans and other species is that they have the prefrontal cortex which is massively beneficial in predicting the future and playing out different scenarios. In essense, I think it’s unfair to say that the state of the art machine learning algorithms are data hungry when we also are…

Thus, to say that AI is data hungry doesn’t seem like a feasible argument. However, the argument that it can’t generalize well from the massive amount of data is reasonable.

Bill Gates said that a company who invents a general form of aritificial intelligence would be worth 10 Microsofts.

I think it would be worth more. A lot more.

Consider this: Every one of us defined by our genetic makeup. And to some degree, all of us perceive the world differently based on our experiences and build up our skills around this “data”. Now the question is, can we make mockups of that process?

If we can spin these people emulators like Docker containers it would be crazy. These AI simulations of people don’t have to be at 100%. They can be less than half way there, but if you can have thousands of them with the correct behavior it would be like havin a mini kingdrom. Considering that many high paying jobs we’re stuck to a screen for 8 hours - can’t all that be automated through highly advanced software? To deploy an artificial intelligence workforce at the press of a button would awesome and terrifying.

Think about organizations. They’re made up of departments with people who have different skillsets. Will there ever be a point - where some company can generate millions of artificial intelligence workers to make an entire organization? Hmm…

2. Decentralized Applications

I think there’s fundamentally something wrong about content creation. For example, whenever we write a review on Glassdoor, or on Yelp, or post on Instagram or Facebook, why are even handing all of our information to these massive companies to wrangle and wrestle out all these insights about us without our explicit knowledge? Why do they get to censor what reviews are trash and what reviews should be on top? Should they really be gatekeepers to content?

It seems counter-intuitive. Everything that we do, everything that we create, should be our property. We should know exactly who has it, and how it is being used, among others.

I read this post recently and I think this is far ahead of it’s time.

The premise is that we should separate the data layer from the view layer. But we should move there. I think this decoupling would do great good for society and defuse all the power that megacorpoations are amassing. However, there are significant hurdles so I don’t think it’s likely that it will happen soon…

But think about it. What if you can separate the facebook view from the data? You can have custom Facebook views instead of the common dark blue. Depending on your permissions, what if you can choose from multiple companies to pick out the feed that you like the most? Or if you don’t want any advertising, what if you can pay one company to host your data, and another view generating company to curate your custom feed with no ads, for some monthly fee? And why should we have one algorithm that determines what our feed shows us? Shouldn’t there be a marketplace tailored to different individuals, and have companies fight for whoever can come up with the savvyest machine learning algorithms to give us content from our data?

With respect to blockchain, maybe cryptography isn’t the driving feature of blockchain technology - it’s probably the distributed nature of the technology. What i find ingenious is the coupling of maintenance of the distributed network with incentives to keep the technology. To keep the network running, you must have multiple nodes verifying the transactions. There’s a built in incentive structure for multiple parties to keep all records.

So with respect to blockchain, I think the underlying concepts behind it are amazing, but not necessarily the actual technology that hodge podges so many different concepts together…