2 days ago, Sunder Pichai gave a presentation at Google’s annual developer conference in California. In that presentation, he impressed members of the audience by announcing how much progress Google had made with Android, Gesture features, Google Maps, and the Android Dashboard.
However, the main focus turned out to be Google Duplex — where Artificial Intelligence took over yet another human activity — making appointments.
It was awe inspiring, shocking, yet scary.
Now, I am all for technological advancement. If you had asked me about my stance on technological advancement a few years ago, I would have emphatically stated “YES” to everything. However, since the past few months, I have started to seriously understand why this kind of development, growth and advancement will do more harm than good.
Now forget the Facebook & Cambridge Analytica expose.
Lets keep that incident aside.
And for a minute lets use logic.
Think about it.
Google gives you FREE services like:
- Google search
- Google Documents
- Google web browser — Chrome
- Google email services — Gmail
- Google smartphone OS — Android
- Youtube Videos
- Cloud Storage
- News services
- Blogging services
- Online Books
Out of the few I have stated, I’m pretty sure Google must have spent billions of dollars on infrastructure, human capital, technology, software…in short everything just to make the user experience perfect.
Now here is my question to you.
- Do you seriously believe Google is doing this out of a sense of Charity for mankind?
- Do you seriously expect to believe that a corporation with millions of dollars in expense are providing all these services for FREE without having any hidden agenda?
- And most importantly, do you seriously believe that the information — which is priceless, that have about you, your behavior, your data, your patterns — aren’t being harvested for their own benefit?
Now think about this….
Which multinational giant do you know that spends Billions of dollars worth of facilities, infrastructure, technology while employing millions of the best brains around the world — all for Charitable purposes without expecting anything in return?
Personally, I do not have a problem if Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, and every other company out there used my information for their benefit in exchange for these services that I am using. I consider it a fair deal because I stay in a forest in Koh Samui with my simple villager Thai wife and there is nothing any software company can do to influence me.
However, what I am worried about is the impact it is having on a global scale. And even more than that my main concern is how it will impact not just you and me — rather our children in the future.
Think about the movie Wall-E
There is a scene in that movie where after Wall-E & Eva land on this self-sustaining spaceship filled with millions of human beings we notice something really funny. All the human beings on this spaceship are over-weight, soft & physically incapable of doing any work. And in a few minutes, we come to know why.
The humans on this ship have used Artificial Intelligence to make their lives so simple and so effortless that now they do not even have to ask if they need something, the AI in the spaceship anticipates each and every human beings needs in advance to the point that nothing has to be done and pleasure is provided. And because of this they have all become physically useless and completely dependent on technology for their survival.
In a very scary way, I see the same thing happening in the future to us and to our future generation.
Just like the movie, if in our real world, Artificial Intelligence is allowed to progress to a point where it will one day take over our calls, our appointments, our basic day-to-day activities — how improbable would it be for us to see the day when Artificial Intelligence takes over human beings completely? Wouldn’t it be possible that one day technology becomes Self-Aware and realizes human beings are not necessary?
Right now as I say this, there are many who may laugh at this thought. After all, this is all Science Fiction Bullshit which happens only in the movies.
But then remember what Stanley Kubrick envisioned in 1968 with 2011: A Space Odyssey? Most of the concepts stated at that time were funny & unrealistic at that time. But today, most of what was Stanley Kubrick envisioned in 1968 are today’s reality.
In fact, think about this, if you are like me in your 40’s (or even if you are in your 30's)
- When you were 9 years old, did you have an iPad, iPhone, iPod or iMac?
- When you were in school, did you have a laptop with video conference capabilities?
- Did you have even 5% of what technology exists today back in your childhood days?
I came from a generation where I saw my 1st computer at the age of 16. And that too, all it could do was type on a word document. Nothing else. There was no google. There was no internet. There was nothing apart from an oversized monitor that I could type and read what I typed.
Imagine for a minute how life was then and then think how far we have come now. Yes, the change have been positive but not without the negatives.
I lived through a phase where taking a break meant going out to play ball with my friends and entertainment meant reading story books. Today I see youngsters taking a break by playing a multiplayer online game on their iPad and entertainment being replaced by some video on youtube. And by youngsters — I am talking as young as 7 years old. And all this has a price to pay.
I simply believe NOTHING on the planet comes for FREE without a cost. Everything we do, say and live by has a price to pay — from the air we breath to the food we eat to the internet facilities Google provides. And just as every good thing can be used and overused, I know for a fact, the same thing can be misused. History has proved itself that individuals, companies & governments can and will use their power & their authority for their benefit. And as long as the game of power, money & politics comes into play, no one is going to offer anyone a free lunch without having a hidden agenda.
To me Sundar Pichai’s presentation had many sweet sounding words and feel good promises. It kind of reminded me of the social awareness changes Pepsi & Coca-Cola made for our Diabetic problem, what McDonald’s did for our Obesity crisis and Facebook promised us for our Privacy. This kind of sugarcoating may work to make the bitter pill sweet but in the end, if the pill is poisonous, no amount of sugarcoating does any good.
Companies and Corporations are created with the focus of making profits, staying in power & becoming a monopolistic giant.
Don’t believe me?
Ask Jeff Bezos.
I know for a fact that one day AI is going to explode and reach critical mass. And when that moment occurs, it will impact and change humanity forever.
Will it be for the better?
I believe so.
But will it also have a price to pay?
I know so.
I for one, will cease to exist by then. But you can be rest assured, the future generations will be left with a massive problem on their hands — thanks to the sins of the ones who came before them.
Trust me when I say this — Sundar Pichai’s Presentation Is Bad News For Humanity.
However, my only request is don’t google it.