How AI Can Bring On a Second Industrial Revolution: Kevin Kelly (Transcript)

The reason why we want to put them in a car so the car drives, is because it’s not driving like a human. It’s not thinking like us. That’s the whole feature of it. It’s not being distracted, it’s not worrying about whether it left the stove on, or whether it should have majored in finance. It’s just driving. Just driving, OK?

And we actually might even come to advertise these as “consciousness-free.” They’re without consciousness, they’re not concerned about those things, they’re not distracted.

So in general, what we’re trying to do is make as many different types of thinking as we can. We’re going to populate the space of all the different possible types, or species, of thinking. And there actually may be some problems that are so difficult in business and science that our own type of human thinking may not be able to solve them alone.

We may need a two-step program, which is to invent new kinds of thinking that we can work alongside of to solve these really large problems, say, like dark energy or quantum gravity. What we’re doing is making alien intelligences. You might even think of this as, sort of, artificial aliens in some senses. And they’re going to help us think different, because thinking different is the engine of creation and wealth and new economy.

The second aspect of this is that we are going to use AI to basically make a second Industrial Revolution.

The first Industrial Revolution was based on the fact that we invented something I would call artificial power. Previous to that, during the Agricultural Revolution, everything that was made had to be made with human muscle or animal power. That was the only way to get anything done.

The great innovation during the Industrial Revolution was, we harnessed steam power, fossil fuels, to make this artificial power that we could use to do anything we wanted to do.

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So today when you drive down the highway, you are, with a flick of the switch, commanding 250 horses — 250 horsepower — which we can use to build skyscrapers, to build cities, to build roads, to make factories that would churn out lines of chairs or refrigerators way beyond our own power.

And that artificial power can also be distributed on wires on a grid to every home, factory, farmstead, and anybody could buy that artificial power, just by plugging something in. So this was a source of innovation as well, because a farmer could take a manual hand pump, and they could add this artificial power, this electricity, and he’d have an electric pump.

And you multiply that by thousands or tens of thousands of times, and that formula was what brought us the Industrial Revolution. All the things that we see, all this progress that we now enjoy, has come from the fact that we’ve done that. We’re going to do the same thing now with AI.

We’re going to distribute that on a grid, and now you can take that electric pump. You can add some artificial intelligence, and now you have a smart pump. And that, multiplied by a million times, is going to be this second Industrial Revolution.

So now the car is going down the highway, it’s 250 horsepower, but in addition, it’s 250 minds. That’s the auto-driven car. It’s like a new commodity; it’s a new utility. The AI is going to flow across the grid — the cloud — in the same way electricity did. So everything that we had electrified, we’re now going to cognify.

And I would suggest, then, that the formula for the next 10,000 start-ups is very, very simple, which is to take x and add AI. That is the formula, that’s what we’re going to be doing. And that is the way in which we’re going to make this second Industrial Revolution.

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And by the way — right now, this minute, you can log on to Google and you can purchase AI for six cents, 100 hits. That’s available right now.

So the third aspect of this is that when we take this AI and embody it, we get robots. And robots are going to be bots, they’re going to be doing many of the tasks that we have already done. A job is just a bunch of tasks, so they’re going to redefine our jobs because they’re going to do some of those tasks.

But they’re also going to create whole new categories, a whole new slew of tasks that we didn’t know we wanted to do before. They’re going to actually engender new kinds of jobs, new kinds of tasks that we want done, just as automation made up a whole bunch of new things that we didn’t know we needed before, and now we can’t live without them.

So they’re going to produce even more jobs than they take away, but it’s important that a lot of the tasks that we’re going to give them are tasks that can be defined in terms of efficiency or productivity.

If you can specify a task, either manual or conceptual, that can be specified in terms of efficiency or productivity, that goes to the bots. Productivity is for robots. What we’re really good at is basically wasting time. We’re really good at things that are inefficient.

Science is inherently inefficient. It runs on that fact that you have one failure after another. It runs on the fact that you make tests and experiments that don’t work, otherwise you’re not learning. It runs on the fact that there is not a lot of efficiency in it.

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