The New AI


They say experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it. However the implications of creating true artificial intelligence may not dawn on us until it’s too late – that is if popular culture has provided any kind of valid foreshadowing. In the drive to create self-aware computing the cream of the crop at the world’s elite scientific institutions must have missed The Matrix, Terminator and even 2001, all which involve the dream of AI gone horribly wrong (but at the very least in an extremely entertaining fashion).

Even without going to the extremity of imbuing human-like attributes into a computer system, there’s no doubt those systems on which we rely and simultaneously create are fast developing their own intelligence. This intelligence is of course enabled by technology but created by people. Twitter and Facebook feeds are now capable of transmitting information and recent events faster and perhaps more accurately than a syndicated TV network or news-source. The elections in Iran, the earthquake in Haiti; all it took was internet access to provide a fast-spreading stream of information and even the ability to provide aid.

The thing I find curious about relentless pursuit of Artificial Intelligence is our need to create a self-thinking machine that once running would require no real human involvement. Depending on the application this would have its benefits, but it seems like we’re developing smarter and faster technology in order to make things easier for ourselves and to invent more time in the day. I don’t think this is working. In fact we have less time than ever and are seeking more saturated levels of stimulation and louder distractions to fill in the shrinking margins of this ‘spare time’.

Technology is an enabler, not a crutch. Studying product design in school and having experienced the industry as a professional, this fact has rung more and more true over time. We can only hope to grow as a society and do better things if we focus on human collaborations enabled by technology and not expecting it to be the other way around. It’s about asking not just how but why. If we cram a billion apps and services into a smart phone, do we actually leave room for a simple phone call anymore? There is an entire rabbit-hole of discussion on this point alone that I won’t dive you down just yet, but I think it’s wise to give pause now and then to consider what kind of system we’re building ourselves into and what we’re becoming a part of.

The ‘mob mentality’ of the past was often driven by myopia. But the power of communication and collaboration is becoming all the more apparent the further into this century we get. The mob is now made up of connected and informed individuals, and it’s why instead of AI being Artificial Intelligence, I think we should make it stand for Aggregated Intelligence – representing the possibility of singularity occurring from a combination of inspired minds and responsible action.

At the moment the corporate machine is looking to reap the benefits of this interconnectedness – the social networking stage for example is an unlimited resource of marketing opportunities but its true potential is much greater. It will simply take power in numbers, whether it be a few or a few million, to make things happen. But it will always come down to the ability of the individual creative to make themselves a part of a bigger purpose.

It’s fitting that I’m writing on this subject as my first dive into the Knot Collective, as I see this as a starting point for the New AI, a chance to be a part of something that begins with a collaboration that has already had its own momentum building up via individual paths, paths that are crossing here and now.

“Do not internalize the industrial model. You are not one of the myriad of interchangeable pieces, but a unique human being, and if you’ve got something to say, say it, and think well of yourself while you’re learning to say it better.” – David Mamet.

Article Info
Posted by: Leon Fitzpatrick
Thinking About: Collaboration / Creativity / Culture / Design / Technology
Location: Chicago
Twitter: le_professional
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