AI: The Last and most conesquential innovation to date
Of all the millions and billions of inventions that humans have come up with since the beginning of time, AI is at the pinnacle of all and could arguably be the most consequential innovation till date. It is coined as a general-purpose technology, permeating into every organisation and reconfiguring it.
So how did we get here and what is the full potential of AI?
For both questions, we will look at the parallels in another domain to gauge its importance and place in history, as we are still in the inception stage of AI. Here we will look at the major technological advances and compare them with the most sophisticated gadget on the planet in evolutionary terms that is the human body. Humans are the most complex species to exist on the face of the Earth. Unconsciously, we have taken cues from a human biological standpoint and replicated (projected) them externally. We have designed the economic structure that mimics the functions of our biology.
To elaborate on that, let’s look at the five major life support systems:
a) Reproductive organs, with the main function of the progression of DNA and security
b) Digestive system that denotes pleasure from accumulation
c) Cardiovascular system as the source of power (life energy)
d) Respiratory System that includes, Lungs for air to control and amplify emotions like love and fear, and
e) the Endocrine (Thyroid) system that represents ego
In addition to the five biological life support systems, we have a mind which is an amalgamation of the following three sub-systems that control not only our internal biology but also thoughts, decisions, and actions.
a) Brain neural network, which digitises the information for storage
b) Communication protocol that connects the neural network, and
c) Intelligence that houses awareness, learning and prediction power
From 80,000 years to about 12,000 years ago, the hunter-gatherer culture was the way of life for early humans. The mainstay for human societies was to kill or be killed, which led to the Security Economy. About 12,000 years ago with the advent of the agricultural sector, humans grew and collected grains and other perishables. The nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle changed to permanent settlements, which led to the accumulation of food in storerooms and goods in the form of property. This introduced the Barter System and invention of bazaars for shopping. The Agricultural revolution triggered the beginning of Pleasure Economy, which is akin to our digestive system in the human body. In order to augment and multiply human power the Power (Industrial) Economy with the invention of hydro and steam was invented 400 years back with oil, electricity, and currently the new concept of nuclear energy was born. It provided the necessary power to improve human life and scale up the societies. All of these innovations are different manifestations of and akin to the cardiovascular network in the human life support system.
It was in the early 1960s that the Love (service) economy was invented with the focus on customer experience with the motto — “customer is the king.” This is analogous to the emotions, like love and fear, the centre of the human life support systems i.e., respiratory system. A couple of decades ago, the Experience Economy came to be after the security, pleasure, power and service economies. The focus shifted to experiences, which is manifestation of ego or endocrine gland in humans. With this we covered the parallels between human biology and economic structures.
Now with the focus on the human mind it is incredible to see how far we have come along on that front! With the invention of transistors and processors about 75 years ago, we have been able to digitise our physical environment and do calculations for predicting the future at a massive scale. The Silicon atomic structure of the processor is like the neuron network of the human brain doing the same functions. This led to Digital Economy of the present day. About 30 years ago, with the advent of the Internet, connected the disparate pieces of information sitting in various servers and started the Communication Economy.
Finally, to complete the functions of mind we needed the attributes of Intelligence, especially learning from the past and projecting the future. This final frontier has been breached. With AI deep learning and classical machine learning algorithms combined, the Intelligence Economy is here now. The AI algorithms have the power of learning the past, predicting the future and also making one aware to undertake appropriate actions and responses. As human intelligence has always been at the helm of internal biology and external actions, AI, similarly, will be permeating in every function, company, and industry.
To summarise, here are the three takeaways: Although we can’t see the full impact of AI in these early days but comparing it with something we have all lived with since time immemorial, i.e. with our body and mind, we can extrapolate the value of AI.
For the first time in evolutionary history, we have invented intelligence with its ability to learn from the past and predict the future, outside the human body and moreover, without the cognitive limitations of an individual human being.
AI will permeate into every part of the company. This makes it the most important and consequential innovation. Finally, as the pace of innovations have been increasing in this intelligence era, if you don’t get on with it, you as a company will be left behind. The time to act is now.
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