What's the next big step in AI

KI: The Next Step in Human Evolution

Xerxes Voshmgir

Not every technology that has triggered a hype turns out to be actually groundbreaking and revolutionary. And yet it can be that we are facing really profound changes in politics, economy and society. Human intelligence will no longer be the measure of all things - artificial intelligence is the next step in evolution.

EnlargeArtificial intelligence is the next step in human evolution
© https://cdorgs.github.io / Sam Kriegman / Douglas Blackiston

This article is the prelude to a series of articles about the interaction of various future technologies and their effects on our society. The futurist Xerxes Voshmgir will go into more detail in follow-up articles on individual topics that he briefly touches on in this overview.

More from him in a TEDx Talk:

Great upheavals

With the advent of every potentially breakthrough technology, a new hype arises. In the past few years, it has mainly been the technologies of big data, the Internet of Things, blockchain and artificial intelligence. Next, green tech and quantum computers are likely to create a hype.

With every hype technology, we are told that it will now lead to a breakthrough and change everything. However, if you look behind the scenes, you can see that a lot of buzz words are circulating and technologies are dubbed as revolutionary, which are often old wine in new bottles or rather evolutionary. The truth is, companies want to be able to sell their services and products better. Ultimately, it's about profit.

But while many new technologies have been labeled as groundbreaking and revolutionary, we may actually be facing major changes.


Among other things, major leaps in development in various disciplines of science and technology are currently causing structural changes in politics, economy and society. That was exactly what triggered the “first” industrial revolution: Structural changes through groundbreaking technologies.

The current development is considered by some to be the “4th Industrial Revolution ”. However, we are facing much more profound changes than would be the case with an industrial revolution.

During the first industrial revolution, the economy in particular changed profoundly. Today's change is much more existential. Not only is the economy changing due to the exponential development of technologies, people themselves are also at the center of the change. A new "man-made" intelligence, which we wrongly call "artificial" intelligence, raises the existential question: What does it mean to be human in the 21st century?

The exponential age and the "superhuman" revolution

Perhaps at the beginning of the 3rd decade of the 3rd millennium we have now reached a new age: the Exponential Age.

In this age, not only are technologies developing rapidly, but humans will also merge with them in the years to come. Thus, Artificial Intelligence will be the next step in human evolution.

To many people this may sound strange and like science fiction at first. Some researchers also consider the merging of man and machine to be unlikely. In fact, among others, Neuralink, an Elon Musk company, is working on a human / machine interface in which artificial intelligence is to be connected to humans via the brain.

In addition, what is possibly the most essential question remains unanswered: Can an artificial intelligence achieve real consciousness? The human impulse is to say: “Of course Artificial Intelligence can never achieve real consciousness!” “But can we really estimate that and be sure that Artificial Intelligence won't catch up with us humans after all?

The neurosciences clearly show that we humans are largely automated and work in a similar way to computers. The only essential difference between humans and machines is that we humans are highly complex and biological, whereas machines are inorganic and - still - far less complex. The complexity of machines is increasing rapidly, and the first organic “robot” has already been programmed.

We are still at the beginning, but the development is progressing rapidly and an artificial intelligence that gains consciousness will turn our entire worldview upside down.

Artificial intelligence is developing exponentially

Using the example of Alpha Go, we can see how rapidly artificial intelligence is developing. Go is a highly complex Asian strategy game. In 2015, the artificial intelligence Alpha Go was able to defeat one of the best players in the world for the first time. Almost three years later, this artificial intelligence was able to beat four of the best players in the world who competed collaboratively against Alpha Go.

The next generation of this AI - Alpha Go Zero - only learned the game based on the rules of the game - millions of strategies and moves were programmed into the previous version. Alpha Go Zero was able to defeat the previous version, Alpha Go, 100: 0 after four days of training.

Compared to the human IQ - it took humans around 100 years to increase their average IQ from 100 to 130 - the AI ​​Alpha Go only took around three years to develop from an IQ from 150 to 700. In the next generation, it only took four days to break the IQ of 700 and increase it to an immeasurable level for us.

This example and the comparison are completely wrong, because apples are compared with pears. However, there is no scientifically solid comparison value. Therefore, this somewhat fuzzy comparison serves us to get a feel for the dimensions with which we are confronted.

So we see that not only is development progressing rapidly, but also that it is now sufficient if we give the AI ​​the rules of the game so that it learns everything else in the black box independently.

What does this mean for us?

The rules of the game

Isaac Asimov was the first robot law to define in 1942 that robots must not injure or kill human beings. However, this informal “law” has already been broken.

The reason for this is that we have a predominant economic system that is purely profit-oriented. This economic system does not inherently take into account the health or well-being of people or the environment. It is not oriented towards long-term meaningfulness or sustainability, but exclusively towards short-term or long-term profit. In the best case scenario, there are still serious corporate social responsibility programs in place - but these are usually marketing measures.

With this awareness and according to these rules of the game, artificial intelligence is programmed today. So it becomes clear that the current economic system is not suitable for the exponential age. But apparently there is a lack of alternatives, or at least the majority still believe so.

Socialism vs. capitalism? Or maybe the token economy after all?

Even if the struggle between socialism and capitalism continues on some fronts, it belongs in the 20th century. We have arrived in the exponential age and this age needs a different economic and value system than the one that has made sense in the past decades and centuries and has functioned according to the time and circumstances.

In a way, it is comparable to the change in mobile locomotion or the replacement of the horse as the central means of locomotion. Up until almost 120 years ago, the horse was the measure of all things for thousands of years - and even today we still give engine power in horsepower - HP.

With the invention of the Otto engine, mobility changed significantly within a few years. The general infrastructure and the traffic rules, until then geared towards horses or horse-powered carriages, carriages and machines, were suddenly no longer the future.

The situation is similar with our economic system, in which the distribution of resources and knowledge has functioned completely differently in the past decades, centuries and millennia than will be necessary in the near future. In addition, human intelligence will no longer be the measure of all things.

The 2008 economic crisis showed us that our current economic system is not functional. In addition, we can see from the climate crisis that it is also damaging to us and our environment.

The crisis of 2008 was also necessary to usher in awareness and rethinking, and one of the fruits of this crisis was a new framework for a new economic system: the Bitcoin blockchain.

Blockchain is the technology and Bitcoin is the token of this first blockchain. A token is the reward for developing, maintaining and maintaining a system - i.e. the reward for providing a certain resource by the participants.

Blockchain has the potential to become the technological backbone of a new token-economic economic system. But due to the cryptocurrency hype in 2017, blockchain tokens like Bitcoin have become objects of speculation. As a result, most people equate blockchain with speculation hype and thus fail to recognize the true potential of blockchain:

With the blockchain you can tokenize every object, every idea and every sense, every purpose, i.e. represent it in tokens.

For example, it can be a purpose to reduce CO2 emissions, to verify news ("True News") or to produce and distribute high-quality content, etc.