Following is the full text of digital visionary Kevin Kelly’s talk titled “How AI Can Bring On a Second Industrial Revolution” at TED conference.
I’m going to talk a little bit about where technology is going. And often technology comes to us, we’re surprised by what it brings.
But there’s actually a large aspect of technology that’s much more predictable, and that’s because technological systems of all sorts have leanings, they have urgencies, they have tendencies.
And those tendencies are derived from the very nature of the physics, chemistry of wires and switches and electrons, and they will make reoccurring patterns again and again.
And so those patterns produce these tendencies, these leanings. You can almost think of it as sort of like gravity.
Imagine raindrops falling into a valley. The actual path of a raindrop as it goes down the valley is unpredictable. We cannot see where it’s going, but the general direction is very inevitable: it’s downward.
And so these baked-in tendencies and urgencies in technological systems give us a sense of where things are going at the large form. So in a large sense, I would say that telephones were inevitable, but the iPhone was not. The Internet was inevitable, but Twitter was not.
So we have many ongoing tendencies right now, and I think one of the chief among them is this tendency to make things smarter and smarter. I call it cognifying — cognification — also known as artificial intelligence, or AI. And I think that’s going to be one of the most influential developments and trends and directions and drives in our society in the next 20 years.