Saturday, January 27, 2018 by Frances Bloomfield
In 20 years, humans will have robot doubles containing digital copies of their consciousness. That’s the future envisioned by Microsoft executives Brad Smith and Harry Shum. According to the two men, artificial intelligence (AI) alter egos are inevitable.
This is just one of the predictions they’ve outlined in their book, “The Future Computed.” In the pages, Smith and Shum discussed how the future version of Microsoft’s virtual assistant Cortana will integrate with the other smart devices around your home to make everyday living a simpler affair. From setting up meetings to replying to emails to booking reservations at restaurants, Cortana will be doing all that for you without you having to ask. In essence, she will become an extension of your consciousness — only digitized.
Microsoft already seems to be heading in that direction. Last summer, the company announced that they would be collaborating with Amazon to cross-integrate Cortana with Alexa, Amazon’s own digital assistant. This was slated to come out at the end of 2017, but nothing has come of it so far. However, that doesn’t mean the two tech giants have put the kibosh on the project. Announcements regarding the Cortana-Alexa cross should be coming out in due time. As reported by TheInquirer.net, Microsoft has said that it will “have more to share soon,” whereas Amazon commented that “we’re working on it and expect to begin rolling it out soon.”
Speaking to UK.BusinessInsider.com, Shum remarked: “I think predicting the future is always hard, but one thing [Smith] and I firmly believe is that the ultimate form of AI is a digital assistant — a digital assistant that really understands you, and with your permission knows everything about you.
“Internally we use the words ‘alter ego’ — really a second self. I think that a lot of AI capabilities will be developed in 20 years. There’s already so much progress with reading and writing, and things like guiding people through solving math equations, and AI will be able to help us do a lot more.”
Shum and Smith further asserted that the amalgamation of AI is a certainty that must be welcomed with open arms. Companies and countries that fail to do so will be left in the dust. (Related: Artificial Intelligence – Our Brave New Future?)
But not everyone agrees with this vision of the future. Elon Musk, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Tesla Inc., has warned against the capabilities of AI, which he once compared to “summoning the devil.” Left improperly regulated, Musk claimed that AI will pose a “fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization.”
As is, AI is evolving at an unprecedented rate. Putting strict regulations in place will ensure that humanity will not be manipulated into performing unspeakable acts. Musk added that governments must gain a better understanding of AI to fully know its risks.
“Once there is awareness, people will be extremely afraid, as they should be. By the time we are reactive in AI regulation, it’ll be too late,” he said.
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