Future May Depend on Learning to Develop a Global Conscience
By the year 2040, we can expect to have general artificial intelligence comparable to humans, according to William Halal, chairman of TechCast Global. “By 2020, a $1,000 computer will have the power of the brain," he predicted. Speaking on a panel at the AFCEA International/George Mason University Critical Issues in C4I Symposium, Halal went on to ask, “What happens to all the people whose jobs will be replaced as a result?"
Looking at the most likely scenarios for the years 2020-2030, Halal shared a macro forecast of technology, social trends and some of the wild cards he sees.
The desire and need for sustainability will increase, he said. This includes green business, alternative energy, GMOs, climate control, smart grids, precision farming and aquaculture. Green transportation will feature hybrid/electric smart cars, high-speed trains, next-generation aircraft and hypersonic flight.
Halal also believes we will see what he defined as “mastery over life” with replacement parts, DNA testing, body monitoring, cure for cancer, life extension and neurotechnology as trends. Just as we are reaching mastery over the physical world, we will have mastery over the biological world, Halal predicted.
Threats include depression, banking crisis, job loss, pandemics, climate shift, cyber wars and biological wars, he offered. But there will also be higher order values such as social responsibility, transparency, diversity, women, generation X and global ethics. Infinite knowledge and intelligence are part of his predicted scenario as well, including: E-everything, global brain second-generation IT (nano, bio, optical and quantum), artificial intelligence, robotics and automation of routine thought.
People can believe everything they want because values and beliefs trump knowledge, Halal said. Terrorism and the crazy ideas it is based on are not knowledge. Making sense of all these values is important to maintaining global order.
According to Halal, the next logical step beyond knowledge is a global consciousness of values, beliefs, ideology and choices. He says a movement will begin to go beyond knowledge in the face of a global mega crisis and also will involve the restructuring of institutions.
The global mega crisis will occur, Halal said, when a confluence of threats, such as climate change, energy and water shortages, financial system collapse and terrorism, converge. Most people do not believe these issues can be solved because of a lack of leadership and vision. Addressing the biggest challenge of civilization will require different forms of consciousness and thinking.
Halal suggested that with good forecasting methods, the world can plan on where its is going. The world lacks good forecasting, but it is easily available, he concluded.
Also on the panel was Steve Rieber, program manager at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), Office of the Director of National Intelligence, who discussed the organization’s crowdsourcing, evidence, argumentation, thinking and evaluation (CREATE) effort.
CREATE is a mulit-year research and development program. Its goal is to develop and test methods to make better arguments by enabling dispersed groups of individuals. The mission is to identify and evaluate reason, evidence and assumption in relation to alternative hypotheses.
CREATE will develop structured methods to elicit and aggregate the elements of an argument. It will help analysts reason better than they currently do and seeks to develop methods that enable groups to rapidly produce an accurate representation of reason.
Rieber said IARPA is accepting proposals on CREATE until mid September.