Cinema audiences are subjected to a mind-boggling fusion of the human consciousness with computing power in Johnny Depp blockbuster Transcendence, but the sinister-seeming world of artificial intelligence is entering the mainstream with Silicon Valley upstarts Google and Facebook. The film, released last weekend, has been savaged by critics against the backdrop of a futuristic arms race in the real world. Google and Facebook have joined Amazon in buying up drone firms to beam internet connections from space, investing in robotics, machine learning and virtual reality technology. But the realm of artificial intelligence could contain the greatest prize, achieving a union of man and machine that is often referred to as "the singularity" – a phrase first used by the American futurologist Ray Kurzweil. The accepted wisdom is that such a leap, if it can happen, is at least 30 years away.
For the first issue of the PCMag Digital Edition in 2019, we're fast-forwarding to envision what technology--and our tech-driven society--will look like in 2039. We wanted to explore the myriad ways in which tech will be more intertwined with our lives and will have changed our culture. To do so, we interviewed a select group of futurists, execs, academics, researchers, and a speculative fiction writer, who gave us some thoughtful predictions. Each of our interviewees has a unique perspective on the most important factors that will influence our tech-driven future, including artificial intelligence, automation, biotechnology, nanotechnology, autonomous vehicles, Internet of Things devices, smart cities, and much more. They also speculate how broader issues such as climate change and online privacy and security will affect us and the technology with which we'll be living. It's our best educated guess at predicting what our world and technology's role in it will look like--whether our lives will be dystopian, utopian, or somewhere in that vast gray area in the middle. Jason Silva is host of the Emmy-nominated series Brain Games on National Geographic. He also created and hosts the YouTube series "Shots of Awe." The ebullient Venezuelan-born documentary filmmaker, speaker, and TV personality--who was once described by The Atlantic as "a Timothy Leary of the viral video age"--is a techno-optimist whose ideas are influenced by (among others) fellow futurist Ray Kurzweil, Wired founding editor Kevin Kelly and his concept of the Technium. In the next 20 years, we're going to see exponential progress in some of these nascent technologies, like virtual reality and augmented reality. I think the next thing to dematerialize is the smartphone itself. What that looks like, who knows? Maybe it's a pair of eyeglasses we put on that are connected to some kind of computational device, and it will beam an augmented reality interface that fully overlays, that is contextually aware, and enhances the way we interface with the world--so that essentially, each one of us has that kind of personalized experience of reality.
With Watch Room, our goal is to contribute to the budding conversation around the promise and perils of Artificial Intelligence research, in a way that respects the complexities involved. As such, we've done our best to create a story that touches on everything from simulation theory, to brain emulation, to Roko's Basilisk... to that most hallowed of science fiction questions: "What makes us human?" Another goal of ours is to illustrate the possibilities within the realm of virtual reality. Of course, Watch Room's scientific roots drink deeply from rich dramatic soil. On one level, we're just plain old excited to make a film that's a joy to watch: smart and twisting in a way that respects the audience and keeps you guessing right up to the end.
Imagine a global "Hive Mind" that can tap the knowledge, wisdom, insights, and intuitions of millions of people, and produce a super-intelligence that is much smarter than any individual person. A new technology called Artificial Swarm Intelligence is making this possible and it could be our best defense against the emerging dangers of AI. Louis Rosenberg, PhD is a researcher, entrepreneur, and writer. He is currently Founder & CEO of Unanimous AI, an artificial intelligence company that amplifies human intelligence by building "hive minds" modeled after biological swarms. A prolific inventor, Rosenberg has been awarded over 350 patents worldwide for his work in Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Human-Computer Interaction. Rosenberg was also the creator of the Virtual Fixtures system for the U.S. Air Force in the early 90's, the first immersive Augmented Reality system.
There are several drivers for the growth of artificial intelligence in the travel sector; these range from cost saving for travel agents to a preference by millennials to work with artificial intelligence and chatbots. As to what artificial intelligence can deliver, this ranges from answering questions about amenities, services and local attractions through to managing the booking process. To gain a clear insight into how artificial intelligence is being applied and what future disruption has in store, Digital Journal caught up with Anil Kaul, CEO of Absolutdata (a consulting-oriented Analytics & Research firm based out of San Francisco, California). Digital Journal: What are the major trends in the travel sector? Anil Kaul: There are many.