USI - Future of humanity with AI, artificial intelligence with Cedric Villani, Kevin Kelly, Mark Esposito, Kevin Klein, Ingrid Betancourt

I was really excited to be invited at USI, Unexpected Sources Technologies, an event that gathers great thinkers and opinion leaders to exchange ideas, draw inspiration, and discuss the digital transformation of our societies. (Link towards videos). 
I wanted to tell a story about the Future of Humanity facing Artificial Intelligence (AI) by picking in  each conference some food for thought and assembling them.
We'll go through the following steps :
  • Our challenges : DRIVE : Demographic & social changes, Resource scarcity, Inequalities, Volatile scale complexity, Enterprising dynamics (with Mark Esposito)
  • Our current reactions : procrastination (Tim Urban), punishment (Emmanuel Jaffelin), creating a butterfly by plugging wings to a caterpillar (Eddie Obeng )
  • One solution : Artificial intelligence becoming a commodity, however there are many intelligences (Kevin Kelly) that could lead us to augmented humans (wings, x-ray eyes...  Moran Cerf )  
  • But AI could outpace us as Lee Sedol experienced when facing AlphaGo (Nick Bostrom) and create major turmoils (loss of jobs, inequalities - Laurent Alexandre). Artificial intelligence Complementary Quotient would outdate IQ. However, we should never violate three rules : lose our body, our autonomy and randomness (still Laurent Alexandre ;)
  • Thankfully, there is still hope, as long as we provide the nutrients to give birth to ideas (Cédric Villani). We must go beyond easy tricks to lure masses (Dan Ariely) and ride the light as Einstein did to foresee our future (Etienne Klein)
  • Start by Design (AI) is a first step (John Maeda), giving a share to people in need (Leila Janah), extensively test AI by hackers (Keren Elazari)  are others. 
  • If ever strong AI overcomes us, we will have one last thing it will never get Faith (Ingrid Betancourt) 
It was a great opportunity before summertime to stick our heads out the day-to-day and think where our world would be going with a little help from my friends ;)


What I wanted to do is to take all the sessions I have been to and create a story that drives you through what could be our potential futures. I didn't respect the order of the conferences I went to, but like notes of a song, I tried to put them together in a special order ... I hope you'll like the song(s) ;).

To summarize, our world is going through major challenges and trends, that Mark Esposito has coined into a keyword DRIVE :

  • Demographic & social changes : world rise of elderly people), 
  • Resource scarcity ( moving away from  a resourceful planet),
  • Inequalities (growing between poor and rich and greatly magnified by perception, thanks to Internet everybody knows to what they can aspire but unfortunately can hardly obtain), 
  • Volatile scale complexity (our world is almost completely unpredictable), but with 
  • Enterprising dynamics (that could help us to face : Customer-focused, efficiency driven, engineering-based, science-based ). 


As Tim Urban, in his personal life, human beings are the best in procrastinating and we are waiting for the Panic Monster to get out of our lazy bed. It starts to really scare us after the little (instant gratification) monkey fooled us (a rational-decision maker) by luring us that we have a planet full of resources, technology will always save us).


John Maeda show we have moved from people around a table to people with their nose glued to their smartphones which won't help us to face this situation.


Punishment would certainly be one of the solutions for Emmanuel Jaffelin but I am not sure it will create much enthusiasm ;)  

Our challenge is not put wings on a caterpillar as would say Eddie Obeng but become a butterfly which means being able to break our usual barriers, stranglehold and deploy our wings Kevin Kelly would certainly say AI is a good thing because it would solve some major issues.


For me, artificial intelligence is a way to transform complex information into simple decisions. AI will become a commodity and flow like electricity or internet access for Kevin Kelly.  It is powering objects with intelligence as electricity powered before objects.


However, there is a long way before, the arrival of strong AI. Today, there are many intelligences that we can already observe in nature (humans, animals and in a way vegetals), AI might be better than us in certain fields (especially perception) but it is certainly not better than us as a whole and not before a few decades. That's why he recommends that humans work together with AI to become centaurs (preferred to the word cyborg to express that we are taking the best of the two worlds)  ... I think it's better than doing nothing and delegating eveything to AI ;)


Moran Cerf would even go further to enhance the human being : human with wings, or people seeing from gamma and x rays to radio waves. As blinds develop new senses, our brain could embrace new functionalities according to him. Sure, it would create some ethics issues ! We could even reach immortality, but who wants to live forever ?  It gives me the shivers... Not sure, I'd like to have chips under my skin :) In AI, we are absolute beginners.


As Nick Bostrom, describes it, AI can go much quicker than we think. When facing AlphaGo, Lee Sedol went from "winning by a near landslide" to "powerless" in 6 months, one year later AlphaGo defeated Ke Jie, the best Go player in the world, 3 to null.



AI starts even fooling us, making us thinks they could become creative artists, by applying well-known painter styles to pictures.  Are we doomed to become contemplative and passive beings, letting AI become our guide ?

Laurent Alexandre would say that we play with fire with AI, he goes even further saying we are in front of great challenges : disappearance of whole swathes of jobs, increasing inequalities between people in terms of intelligence (that could lead to massive upheaval, intellectual discrimination...), exacerbated by the introduction of chips in brains. Concerning jobs, best chances are those that mix manual ability and intelligence.


In the future, our AICQ  (Artificial intelligence Complementary Quotient - Quotient de complémentarité à l'IA in French QCIA) would outdate IQ. AICQ would measure how much our intelligence can leverage from AI. This raises one question, if two people had respectively IQ's of 80 and 120, would AI add intelligence, for instance +20 : 100 and 140 (which would relatilvely reduce people difference) or multiply it, for instance, *1,5 : 100 and 150 (which would increase people difference).
After asking the question to Laurent, he told me he thinks it would be the latter ... I think that after diabetes epidemy there is a real risk of intellectual diabetes (where we would rest on AI, as today people rest on junk food to eat).
To avoid this, Laurent stated three red lines, humanity should never cross, lose our body (if we were able to download / upload our mind to silicon ), delegate our autonomy (humans must be the final decision-maker), and get rid of randomness ("hasard" in French)

However there are reason for hope, it will come from an idea. But giving birth to an idea is not just a miracle says Cédric Villani, we gotta get up and try, and try, and try.  Like earth, ideas grow in a fertile ground full of nutrients :  documentation, motivation, enabling environment, exchanges between other people, interest, constraints, work and enlightenment.
By using Dan Ariely clever tricks, we could accept to drive the masses by opting in or out towards the right direction by reducing their efforts to decide but humankind is worth more than that.  
As would advocate Etienne Klein, he pushes towards another experience, a thought experiment. Einstein was riding light to discover that it has an absolute speed, why couldn't we take a ticket to ride our light to understand our limits and use it to make our world sustainable and better.

For John Maeda, the first step must be Design and not be the "fifth wheel of the carriage". By analogy, when we create and design AI now, we should in advance anticipate a few things, like a "Stop Button", a track log to understand what is going on...


Building AI can even be a factor of inclusion as explained Leila Janah, training people from developing countries to recognize images to feed artificial intelligence engines. It is a way to give them a share of new technologies. There is a risk to cut the branch on which they are sitting, however it gives people also the opportunity to move up of the ladder and go on the other side of the branch.
Another interesting analogy we can make between helping developing countries and AI, we shouldn't give Care (as usually do NGO / ONG or in case of AI, being assisted by AI ) but give means to work as Leila Janah did (and for AI, facilitate, help to work and not replace it).

Also, to avoid AI going crazy and hijacked, Keren Elazari says it needs to be widely and extensively tested by anticipation, so find all failures. Keren Elazari shows how hackers can help to reach that goal and gain precious time through bug bounties particularly.


But if ever, strong AI came over and overwhelmed humanity, there would be one thing that humans would have left that robots and Artificial Intelligence would never have : Faith, source of Hope and Will.  
Faith that Ingrid Betancourt had to survive of captivity among FARC, hope to escape one day and will to do it.
She may be coming from hell. Whereas all chances were against her, despite all logic and reasoning,  she broke free and reunited with her loved ones.
Dimitri Carbonnelle - Founder Livosphere 
Conseil Open Innovation - IoT, AI
Helping businesses to use new technologies (IoT, AI, VR...) as leverage

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