When the word ‘artificial’ is mentioned, it rarely makes anyone think about anything good because let’s face it, the real thing is almost always more acceptable than its artificial counterpart.
On the other hand, when the word ‘intelligence ‘ is mentioned, you can’t help but think that it’s something good — something that when used properly, can help make any situation better.
So what happens when you combine one negative and one positive concept? It can go either way, right? And that’s why ‘artificial intelligence’ is such a controversial concept — the very idea of trying to replicate human intelligence is as ambitious as it is frightening. Why? Because it’s natural to be scared of the unknown. And for sure, there’s so much about AI that we don’t know about.
Admittedly, the application of AI on different industries is helping make a lot of tasks easier. Think smartphones (and iPhones); smart home devices; smart cars; diagnostic equipment; automated assistants; facial, handwriting and speech recognition software; data mining; security surveillance and countless more.
But merging AI with human intelligence? Should we really go that far? Whether we like it or not, it’s going to happen. And one firm that will make sure it does is Kernel, a newly formed company founded by entrepreneur, venture capitalist and former Braintree founder Bryan Johnson. Kernel’s focus is on building and developing ‘HI’ or Human Intelligence — the merger of humans and AI.
As explained in a report published in SingularityHub, it’s about our brain’s cells (called neurons) connections controlling everything about us — what we think, do and feel. These brain connections, combined with our senses, shape our views and perceptions about everything that’s happening in the world. And when one of these connections fail, electronic devices enter the picture to take over the function of whatever part of our system may have failed. For example, a cochlear implant to help restore hearing functions.
Supposedly, these implants are only the beginning of what is being referred to as the BCI or Brain-Computer Interface — the pathway that connects the brain with an external computing device. Going beyond the restoration of sensory functions, BCI is envisioned to eventually enable manipulation of certain chemicals within the brain in order to repair or improve a person’s cognitive function. In time, this same technology combined with some other emerging tools should theoretically allow the merging of AI with HI to bring about ‘something more than just human.’
And so this gives rise to a series of questions: Is it possible to replicate the brain’s natural firing of neurons? If it is, can we do anything to control the process? If we can, will that pave the way for the goal of AI-HI merging? And finally, do we really want that integration to happen?
If only to prevent the grim future predicted by Jürgen Schmidhuber that AI will someday threaten our existence, maybe we should give this AI-HI merger a chance to happen. That way, instead of AI taking over us, it will be us taking over AI. It’s a more appealing scenario, isn’t it?