Following is the full transcript of digital visionary Kevin Kelly’s talk titled “How AI Can Bring On a Second Industrial Revolution” at TED conference.
Kevin Kelly – TED Talk TRANSCRIPT
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.
So, of course, it’s already here. We already have AI, and often it works in the background, in the back offices of hospitals, where it’s used to diagnose X-rays better than a human doctor. It’s in legal offices, where it’s used to go through legal evidence better than a human paralawyer.
It’s used to fly the plane that you came here with. Human pilots only flew it seven to eight minutes, the rest of the time the AI was driving. And of course, in Netflix and Amazon, it’s in the background, making those recommendations. That’s what we have today.
And we have an example, of course, in a more front-facing aspect of it, with the win of the AlphaGo, who beat the world’s greatest Go champion. But it’s more than that. If you play a video game, you’re playing against an AI.
But recently, Google taught their AI to actually learn how to play video games. Again, teaching video games was already done, but learning how to play a video game is another step. That’s artificial smartness.
What we’re doing is taking this artificial smartness and we’re making it smarter and smarter. There are three aspects to this general trend that I think are underappreciated. I think we would understand AI a lot better if we understood these three things.
I think these things also would help us embrace AI, because it’s only by embracing it that we actually can steer it. We can actually steer the specifics by embracing the larger trend. So let me talk about those three different aspects.
The first one is: our own intelligence has a very poor understanding of what intelligence is.