Artificial Intelligence’s Galileo moment

Generation prophet

In 2017 Artificial Intelligence (AI) will redefine the possibilities of research and academia. 

Some doomsayers assume that most human employees will soon be replaced by smart machines. But I think that AI techniques will make many jobs better and more innovative. Bringing AI to the world of academic research, for example, will be akin to how Galileo’s creation of the astronomical telescope in 1609 radically advanced the study of cosmology. 

For the Failure Institute (the research arm of the Fuckup Nights movement) AI will improve the speed and level of complexity at which we study how businesses and ideas fail. Combining natural-language processing and ai will allow us to ask a helpful robot about the chances of failing in business X in neighbourhood Y. Soon we will be able to generate a map showing in real time where firms are being closed around the world and why. 

The use of machine learning can help us translate almost instantaneously the 200-plus cases of business failure we gather each month from all over the world into data and trends. With this information we can help governments, the private sector and academia make more informed judgments and decisions.

The quantity of the world’s data doubles every two years, and the cost of storing those data falls at approximately the same rate. This abundance of information raises the question-answering precision of AI to a whole new level.

For example, imagine you work in an environmental think-tank. With the advent of big data and AI, you will soon have a system that can read from cover to cover all the papers on sustainability published all over the world and digest their content, ready to answer any questions you ask it.

AI already has the ability to “think” and respond to questions. It will soon be an unprecedented tool that magnifies human intelligence and allows us to advance as a species, eliminating hunger, curing disease and saving our planet from environmental catastrophe. 

But as with any tool, AI can also be used for nefarious purposes: terrorism, espionage and war. In 2017 citizens will demand that policymakers take more seriously the need to inject transparency into the algorithms used to process and make decisions around citizens’ data. As with the discoveries of Galileo, expect new battles between the authorities and the public over how widely the insights and benefits of this new scientific breakthrough are shared.

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