• Contributed by: Vishal Chandra, VP Gluelabs, Advisor to sfivei    
    Jul 20, 2018 · 5 min read


Artificial Intelligence or AI technology is going to be the most impactful technology of our generation. It’s impact on all of us and everything around us is going to be extensive. While this may not seem as obvious to us today because we are in the middle of it and also because the use of AI is just getting started.

We mostly worry about or pay attention to more immediate events. Immediate both on a time horizon scale perespective and nearness from the perespective of physical proximity. Like how well the stock market is doing, or more tragically the occurence of events like earthquakes, tsunamis or even war.

But if you look historically, the only two long term phenomena that truly shapes mankind’s future is technology and climate change. It is extremely hard to perceive the impact of changing climate since it happens over eons, but the impact of technology on humanity is more observable.

The inventions of fire, agriculture, improvements in medical science, and even the internet has changed all of our lives irreversibly. For our generation it is going to be the technological developments in the field of Artificial Intelligence that will have the most impactful and bring about the longest lasting changes which will carry forward to the next few generations.

The potential of Artificial Intelligence for good

AI technologies have the potential to unleash the productivity of humanity. There was a time when we were hunters and gatherers. Then we invested agriculture which allowed us to settle down and freed up human time to create other things. When economies do well, then lot more people can spend time on art, literature and science. Although it may not seem so, but not enough of us are engaged in improving our understanding of the basic sciences. It is via developments in physics, mathematics, chemistry and biology that we can address the key long term challenges facing humanity.

What will we be able to do if an asteroid is actually on a collision course with Earth ? It is a real threat for humanity. We actually do not always manage to detect all such objects in space or detect them when they are almost upon us (Asteroid as big as a warehouse is freakiest near miss in years). Taking into consideration the enormity of this threat, we do not have enough people working on this problem. That’s of course just another instance of humans ignoring black swan events.

Other than addressing threats which may lead us into a post-apocalyptic world, we have very real problems today as well. Human disease is an obvious one, but also the problems that past and current human progress has created. E.g. our polluted oceans. If only a billion minds could focus on solving these problems, we will be able to ensure a safer and brighter future for all of us. As artificial intelligence technology takes on more of our repetitive tasks, it will free us up to do what is more important.

Why we need democratization of Artificial Intelligence technologies

Today the largest companies of the world are worth hundreds of billions and the top most of these lead in the development and use of artificial intelligence technologies. The use of better technology is very powerful and are helping these businesses become even bigger monopolies. The world is seeing increasing wealth disparity and advanced artificial intelligence technology will only enhance this imbalance. Unless a technology as impactful as artificial intelligence was widely available to all businesses.

Amazon and Google do provide access to AI technology to other businesses, but the most impactful parts of the technology are only going to be used to further their goals of creating even larger monopolies.

It is not that AI technology is not getting created outside of these powerhouses. Artificial Intelligence is one the key areas where startups are getting created and VCs are investing in. But the pace at which these AI technology startups are getting acquired by the big companies is also very high.

The democratization of artificial intelligence technologies is going to be extremely important because of the sheer impact such technology will have on humanity. The benefits of the technology must spread more widely. It is thus important for more AI startups to be able to stay independent and not end up as an acquisition. It is important for businesses to have access to the best of AI technology and be able to compete against the Google and Amazon of the world in their core domain of search and ecommerce and also important that hundreds of AI technology providers come up and even grow into larger companies, so that there is always a level playing field.

The democratisation of artificial intelligence technologies will form the basis of a vibrant and beneficial for all AI economy. That is the future we need to work towards.

Evangelizing a better future

Over the ages human progress has always been driven by evangelism. Starting with our religions, to causes like freedom and equality for all, it is evangelism which aligns human eSort before progress is made.

Today Bill Gates evangelises the eradication of polio and Elon Musk evangelises a future for humanity beyond being tied down to Earth. To ensure that the benefits of a technology as impactful as artificial intelligence, accrue to all of us, we also need to evangelise the kind of AI economy we want to build. We do not need to be Bill Gates or Elon Musk to evangelise the future. We do however need to believe in the future we are evangelising and want to see it happen. If you believe that Artificial Intelligence is the most impactful technology of our generation and the democratisation of this technology is important then you can evangelise the future of the AI economy as well.

Here are some tips from Guy Kawasaki on the Art of Evangelism that you can read. Guy Kawasaki was the first person at Apple with the title of Evangelist. He used to work for a jewellery manufacturer but then his belief in how personal computers could be so impactful took him towards becoming an evangelist. As an evangelist, the experience of engaging with people and opening up their minds about what technology can do for them helped shape Guy’s ideas and world views to a large extent. In turn he shared those ideas and world views with us in the form of lots of wonderful books, which are a must read for anyone.

If you do choose to become an evangelist for this future of the AI economy or want some advice on how to become one or are already an evangelist, I would be happy to hear from you. I can be reached via email on vishal AT gluelabs DOT com.