What if you could take your idea for a mobile app from today and have that app in your hands tomorrow?
What if the cost of healthcare was made so low it could be provided to everyone?
What if your job being automated gave you the freedom to pursue the creative activities you enjoy the most?
I believe that's the promise machine learning offers, and so does Sebastian Thrun.
Rather than living in a world where machines rule over us, the future will be one in which humanity is augmented by artificial intelligence (AI). No, I'm not talking about a Black Mirror episode where we all have built-in cameras recording our lives. I'm talking about humans being made more powerful by letting machines do all the repetitive tasks we do today.
It's something we've been doing for thousands of years.
Let's take a quick look at the history of the United States
- 1600's – 90% of the population works on farms
- 1820 (Farm to Factory) – the move from farm to factory begins with the American Industrial Revolution.
- 1900 (Factory to Office) – modern office life takes shape as a majority of the population lives in cities
- 1950 – Alan Turing creates the “Turing Test” to determine if a computer has real intelligence. Computer languages start to be written.
- 1979 – the first spreadsheet application, VisiCalc, is released for the Apple II. No more math! Or so we thought…
- 2012 – Harvard Business Review names data scientist as the “sexiest job of the 21st century”
- 2017 – AI is seeping into everything from determining how good of a fit a potential employee is to everything fed to us on social media
My point is that throughout time we have witnessed major shifts in how we work, each caused by our automating of routine tasks.
When labor moved from the farm to the factory many farming tasks were automated with machinery.
The first factories were full of people working with dangerous machines. Over time machines have taken over and can easily outnumber the people. More of the work has been automated.
Much of the “modern” work we do is routine and can be automated.
I spent months at one job cleaning data in spreadsheets and then importing them into a system, until I wrote some code to automate it.
At the same job I spent months playing fraud detector until I wrote a little application powered by a machine learning model. That app did in seconds what took 30 minutes of my time each morning.
I'm not the only one to experience this.
Think about all the things you do during the day. Now be honest with yourself and ask this question – given the technology existed, how much of what you do could be automated?
Probably quite a bit.
Now I'm not just talking about what you do to make money. I'm suggesting much of what you do during the day is up for grabs.
Think about that and answer this question – what would be possible for you if all that mundane work was automated?
Would you be free to design a product that could truly help your customers? Would you be able to spend more time with your family? Would you have the time to take that class you've had your eye on for months?
If I didn't have to go grocery shopping, that alone could save hours each week.
Imagine being able to select from a list of dishes you want to cook for the week. What you don't have in the fridge could be ordered for you and delivered in time for you to cook. Say you want to mix some delivery options in. All of that could be automated. Monday you're cooking dinner and Tuesday the pizza arrives hot and delicious. With this one application you could reclaim hours of your life, hours you can choose to spend on things that matter. Hours you would not otherwise, ever, get back.
This, not some robot overlord-led future, is the promise of artificial intelligence.