Cómo la inteligencia artificial es como la electricidad y por qué eso importa
How AI Is Like Electricity—and Why That Matters
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear ‘artificial intelligence’? For those raised on a steady diet of big budget Hollywood sci-fi, the answer to that question is something along the lines of “evil robots and all-knowing computers that are going to destroy humanity.”
But AI is already playing an active role in our day-to-day lives, and its capabilities are only going to increase from here on out. To help ease the anxiety that will likely accompany that increase, Wired founding editor Kevin Kelly has suggested we re-frame the way we’re thinking about AI, both by changing the vocabulary we use for it and by putting it into historical context.
|If an object has a battery in it or a plug at the end of it, it won’t be long before that item is intelligent – although Kevin Kelly, the founder editor of WIRED, questions whether intelligence is really the word we want to be using. “It’s best I think to think of these intelligences as smartness instead of intelligence, because we have a lot of baggage with the idea of intelligence,” says Kelly. He suggests a new verb: cognify, and also cognification. This is what Kelly terms the second industrial revolution. The first saw us put the power of muscle into objects in the form of energy – steam, gasoline, electricity – literally giving things like cars a certain amount of ‘horsepower’. Next, we will cognify anything that is electric. And if you think the first industrial revolution shook up the way we lived, just wait for the second one to fully set in. Kevin Kelly's most recent book is The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future http://www.indiebound.org/book/978052...
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Artificial intelligence has come into its own because we have had certain demonstrations of its power. For instance the Google AI beating the best Go player in the world which had been a goal that many people thought would not be achieved for many decades. And here it is already. Now we have examples of Amazon Echo, Alexa, Google, people talking to their machines and they’re talking back having a conversation. And so it’s now suddenly easy for us to imagine how the benefits of artificial intelligence could kind of creep into the rest of our lives. And it’s best I think to think of these intelligences as smartness instead of intelligence because we have a lot of baggage with the idea of intelligence. If we think of these as artificial smartness and everything getting smarter I think we’ll have a better idea of what we’re going to see. So we don’t have a good English word for making smarter and smarten, smartify. So I use the word cognify to mean making things smarter. And I’m suggesting that, in fact, this is a very broad verb that will apply to everything in our lives and that basically anything that we have already electrified, made electronic, automatic, we’re now going to cognify.
So the first industrial revolution was our large-scale switch from the agricultural world where anything that we made had to be done with natural power, muscle power. Human or animal muscle power. It was the only way you could make something. The big switch was we automated this and we had electronic motors, gasoline, steam engines. We had automation and we had artificial power. That’s what powered the industrial revolution was we could apply artificial power to everything. And we made a grid to deliver that power to every farm and every home in the country, in the world. And so everything that had been done with natural power was now being done with artificial power. So movement, transportation was amplified by this new artificial power. So today when you get in your car and turn the switch you’re suddenly summoning 250 horses, the equivalent of 250 horses. Their natural power is made artificial and is going to run your car down 60 miles an hour just with your turning of the wrist. So that’s what the industrial revolution was. We took things, we took natural muscle power and we amplified them and we multiplied that by a million times and that was made everything that surrounds me right now, that surrounds the city, all that came from this artificial power.
We’re going to have a second industrial revolution where we take everything we’ve already automated with synthetic artificial power and now we’re going to add artificial intelligence on top. We’re going to take that car that has 250 horses and now we’re going to add 250 minds. They’re not human minds. They’re artificial minds but that’s the auto driven car. And we’re going to multiply that power of adding this natural, excuse me, this artificial smartness to everything. And we’re going to have a second industrial revolution where everything that we make and have previously electrified we’re now going to cognify. And that additional smartness is going to unleash the power that we have not even seen with the industrial revolution. The extent of this transformation is very, very profound. And that is what we’re now in the dawn of and we’ll see in the next 20 years in a very real way.
Kelly thinks the word ‘intelligence’ has taken on undue baggage, including a somewhat negative connotation. When it’s not used in reference to a human mind, the word can conjure images of spying, classified information, or invasion of privacy.
Since the scope of artificial intelligence goes far beyond that, and we may be past the point of instilling a new definition of old words, why not use new words instead?
Kelly’s word of choice is cognification, and he uses it to describe ‘smart’ things.
At this point only a handful of things have been cognified, and more are in process: phones, cars, thermostats, TVs. But in the future, Kelly says, everything that’s already been electrified will also be cognified. Smart homes? Smart office buildings? Smart cities? Only a matter of time.
The cognification of things can be viewed similarly to the electrification of things that took place during the Industrial Revolution.
The industrial revolution saw a large-scale switch from the agricultural world—where everything that was made was made by muscle power—to the mechanized world, where gasoline, steam engines, and electricity applied artificial power to everything. We made a grid to deliver that power, so we could have it on-demand anytime and anywhere we wanted, and everything that used to require natural power could be done with artificial power.
Movement and transportation, among other things, were amplified by this new power. Kelly gives the example of a car, which is simple but compelling: you summon the power of 250 horses just by turning a key. Pressing your foot to the gas pedal can make your vehicle go 60 miles an hour, which would have been unthinkable in the era when all we had to go off of was muscle power.
The next step is to take that same car that already has the artificial power of 250 horses and add the power of 250 artificial minds. The result? Self-driving cars that can not only go fast, they can make decisions and judgment calls, deliver us to our destinations, and lower the risk of fatal accidents.
According to Kelly, we’re currently in the dawn of another industrial revolution . As it progresses, we’ll take everything we’ve previously electrified, and we’ll cognify it.
Imagining life before the Industrial Revolution, we mostly wonder how we ever lived without electricity and human-made power, thinking, “Wow, I’m sure glad we have lights and airplanes and email now. It’s nice not to have to light candles, ride in covered wagons, or send handwritten letters.” Admittedly, our relief is sometimes mixed with some nostalgia for those simpler times.
What will people think in 200 years? Once everything has been cognified and the world is one big smart bubble, people will probably have some nostalgia for the current ‘simpler times’—but they’ll also look back and say, “How did we ever live without ubiquitous AI?”
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