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What Next?

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Stationary Front, 2016 – Convergent :: (click to see more)

I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating how things are going to unfold in the near future – both in general and personally. First of all, because I’m self-employed it means I’m on my own for future finances but also I’m having a hard time imagining myself just stopping work at a certain age. I would get incredibly bored. I prefer to enjoy my life now as it unfolds and then just keep on doing that until I run out of steam.

But aside from this dilemma I believe we are all on a path that will drastically change what we collectively do with our time regarding useful work. We are experiencing the thin edge of the wedge when it comes to the changes that AI is bringing to our lives. And these changes are following an exponential asymptotic curve – which means it starts out as a very mild shallow curve which we recognize as close to a straight line, but then it hits a sudden upward bend that goes essentially vertical. The really large changes this will bring are unimaginable now and seem very far away, but they aren’t.

A parallel past example – if you remember when the human genome sequencing project began in 1990 almost all scientists at the time believed there was no way it would be completed in the target 15 year timeframe – and it would not have been with the technology available in 1990. But in that 15 year timeframe the technology matured exponentially and the project was in fact essentially completed in 2000 – with a complete draft published in 2003, 5 years early at a cost of $3 billion. Now 13 years later anyone can have their genome sequenced for under $1000.

We are at the start of the same thing now with AI and it will affect our lives in the same way retirement affects most people.

What useful things will we do with our time?
What will we do with these new extraordinary abilities?
How will our lives change?
What next?