AI: Artificial Intelligence or “Agonistes Intentionale”?

If talk of Virtual Reality is hot, plans for Artificial intelligence are even hotter. Forbes has a story today that declares “Tech CEOs Declare This is the Era of Artificial Intelligence.”

The story claims that the AI biz will blow up into a $70 billion business by 2020, or roughly twice the revenue of the NFL (which will surely grow if they can replace the players with robots). We don’t find that hard to believe. What we do question is, though, who’s going to have the money to spend it?

Already we’re seeing the most primitive of robots replacing counter workers at McDonald’s, shortly after chatter about raising minimum wage for such jobs broke the surface of the corporate media. We’re sure that’s going to be just for starters.

Amazon, for example, says it expects AI to become the “fourth pillar” of its business. Amazon employs a lot of people in blue collar jobs that can easily be replaced by automation. That’s gonna hurt.

But even well beyond AI and robots making many jobs obsolete, what does AI mean for humanity at large? As the current mass media messiah of tech Elon Musk evangelizes in the Forbes piece, we should expect AI and machine learning to soon reach a point where we’ll be working with computers so advanced and “godlike” that humans are going to need to implant “neural laces” in their brains to keep up.

At that point, you’ve got to question whether we’re even human anymore, right? And before we reach that razor’s edge dilemma, is it worth considering what else AI could stand for? Like, perhaps the Latin words “Agonistes Intentionale” -- which translate roughly as “self-inflicted struggle.”

The most famous literary use (until this column, anyway) was in the poet John Milton’s “Samson Agonistes,” about the legendary warrior who lost his strength when he had such desire for a woman he let her cut his hair, which was the source of his power. Basically, he brought his problems upon himself out of vanity.

It’s arguable, in the same way, that AI and other technology is creating a self-inflicted struggle, or at least tension, between humanity as we’ve always known it, and a Brave New World where machines not only morph society into something new, they evolve humanity into something that’s not even recognizable as human any longer. Not to mention a humanity that doesn’t have a place to work.

Of course, maybe we’re overthinking this.

Either way, as we’ve said before, that’s one of the critical reasons 7CTOs exists. We must never let go of the common root humanity that makes us who we are. We need equal levels of empathy and tech know-how. That’s why we’re here, and we hope that’s why you’re here too.