This shift is neither inherently threatening nor inherently redemptive. Yet it is sufficiently different that it very likely will alter the trajectories of societies and the course of history. Few eras have faced a strategic and technological challenge so complex and with so little consensus about either the nature of the challenge or even the vocabulary necessary for discussing it.The Age of AI: And Our Human Future – Henry A Kissinger, Eric Schmidt, Daniel Huttenlocher
That quote from a new book titled The Age of AI speaks to just how much change the world can expect in the coming decades. Authors Henry Kissinger, Eric Schmidt, and Daniel Huttenlocher explore the implications of AI as it progresses over the next several years. One key message captures the rare challenge faced by humanity: although we have experienced technological change throughout history, we have only rarely witnessed technology fundamentally transform the social and political structure of our societies. That’s where we find ourselves as we stare into an uncertain future.
The book points to two traditional ways by which people have known the world, faith and reason. We are likely adding a third via Artificial Intelligence. Their conclusion gets to the heart of the challenge – and the test we all face. The shift will likely transform our core assumptions about the world, testing our ability to unlearn. The 15th century is described as the last time we have found ourselves in this place – and the growth of knowledge was the catalyst. The printing press drove a search for knowledge that challenged official hierarchies and altered society’s frame of reference. We shifted away from the quest to know the divine through scripture and its official interpretation, disrupting the established monopoly on information that was largely in the hands of the church. This emerging age of reason revolutionized the sciences and altered our social lives, our arts, our faith, and society, as the hierarchy of feudalism fell and democracy emerged. The age of AI likely represents the first time since the 15th century that true structural change is upon us.
The authors suggest that the superiority of human reason gives way to the proliferation of machines that can match or surpass human intelligence. This eventuality promises transformations potentially more profound than those of the Enlightenment. The authors describe rapid progress and astounding discoveries in mathematics, astronomy, and the natural sciences in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. That rapid progress led to a philosophical disorientation. It was the philosophers of the Enlightenment that identified reason (the power to understand, think, and judge) as both the method of and purpose for interacting with the environment. But the authors see AI providing an alternative means of accessing and thus understanding reality. The critical question the book begins to explore is: what additional levels of perception or comprehension may AI permit?
We are entering a new epoch in which the reasoning human mind is yielding its pride of place as the sole discoverer, knower, and cataloger of the world’s phenomena. But we have reached a tipping point: we can no longer conceive of some of our innovations as extensions of that which we already know. By compressing the time frame in which technology alters the experience of life, the revolution of digitization and the advancement of AI have produced phenomena that are truly new, not simply more powerful or efficient versions of things past.The Age of AI: And Our Human Future – Henry A Kissinger, Eric Schmidt, Daniel Huttenlocher
“Phenomena that are truly new.” That’s why old mental models can’t help us navigate this phase transition. The book explores several aspects of the transition. Like the last transition where new ideas spread and toppled or reshaped established orders, this one has the same potential. The book identifies the changes from the past: adaptations of religion (the Reformation), revolutions in politics (adjusting the concept of national sovereignty), and new understandings in the sciences (redefining the concept of reality). The authors state that the last time human consciousness was changed significantly was the Enlightenment, and the transformation occurred because new technology engendered new philosophical insights, which, in turn, were spread by technology (in the form of the printing press). Enter the age of AI. An important book for anyone’s library. I have added it to mine. More information about the book can be found here.
Three of the world’s most accomplished and deep thinkers come together to explore Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the way it is transforming human society—and what this technology means for us all. An AI learned to win chess by making moves human grand masters had never conceived. Another AI discovered a new antibiotic by analyzing molecular properties human scientists did not understand. Now, AI-powered jets are defeating experienced human pilots in simulated dogfights. AI is coming online in searching, streaming, medicine, education, and many other fields and, in so doing, transforming how humans are experiencing reality.
In The Age of AI, three leading thinkers have come together to consider how AI will change our relationships with knowledge, politics, and the societies in which we live. The Age of AI is an essential roadmap to our present and our future, an era unlike any that has come before.