I’m excited to announce my new book, Soulful: You in the Future of Artificial Intelligence. The book will be released in May but the Kindle Edition can be pre-ordered from Amazon now.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has hit an inflection point as ChatGPT has popularized its use. The implications are staggering. The following excerpt from the book describes the significance of this landmark in the history of AI:
A group of expert panelists at the 2023 World Economic Forum in Davos unanimously agreed that 2023 marks an inflection point for AI. Brad Smith, Vice-Chair and President at Microsoft, explained why:
“Think about the history of technology, and there are certain inflection points when technology is really embraced by the public, and frankly, life is not the same again. The most recent was probably 2007 when the introduction of the iPhone transformed the movement towards mobility.”
He then made the case that the same principle applies to AI in 2023:
“The AI has existed, it has been a topic of discussion now for six or seven years at Davos, but this is the year. I do believe 2023 will be the year that is remembered as the inflection point because these large language or foundational models are enabling people to do things they didn’t believe would be possible even really in this decade, and it is going to be used in so many ways.”
Machines are gradually but relentlessly encroaching on what was once believed to be the exclusive realm of tasks performed by humans. This excerpt elaborates on this topic:
As machines become more intelligent, they will increasingly encroach on tasks that, until now, only humans could perform. They will not only displace the type of routine manual labor that one would typically find in a manufacturing or retail environment, but gradually become more proficient in doing the work of doctors, lawyers, engineers, and other professionals that use their intellect to make a living. To what extent the machines will completely displace all human work is yet unknown. But one thing we can count on is that machines will be present in every aspect of our work. The difference is that in the future, we will no longer be just using them as tools but collaborating with them as equals, and in some cases, even being subordinated to them, following their instructions.
This higher level of interaction is perhaps the most troubling aspect of the transformative nature of man’s relationship with machines. Until now, no other species or machine has been able to challenge our superiority and absolute dominance over our environment. But now, as we consider the possible creation of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), and perhaps even Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI), we are dealing with a completely unknown environment with unimaginable scenarios that challenge the very notion of what it means to be human.
But even if we never get to AGI or ASI, we already have to adapt to a world where Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI)—intelligent machines that outperform us in specialized tasks—work side-by-side with us. Machines with superior specialized capabilities are already a reality today. They are helping us sort through enormous quantities of data, find patterns, make predictions, search for information, translate foreign languages, write essays, create new art forms, and much more. They are helping us uncover new possibilities we would never have been able to discover on our own.
Soulful explains how Human-AI collaboration will increase productivity in Education, Healthcare, Science, Manufacturing, Service, and many other areas. The book discusses the human condition, what motivates and sets us apart from robots, and how to use our intuition to collaborate with AI. It teaches how to identify and develop unique human capabilities and skills that will be highly valued in the future, such as empathy and lateral thinking. The following excerpt touches on this subject:
The future will require people with the ability to solve wicked problems that are complex, constantly changing, and for which there are no prescribed formulas. In a complex, interconnected, and fast-changing world, we need to develop a workforce that is proficient at lateral thinking—the ability to search for input from multiple domains and connect the dots in unique ways to gain new insights. Tasks that are restrained and repetitive are more likely to be automated. To compete and collaborate with the machines, humans must use conceptual reasoning skills to connect new ideas across contexts and apply conceptual knowledge from one problem domain to an entirely new one.
Management will have to take these considerations into account as it plans for organizational development. Hiring processes may have to evolve from seeking candidates that can fill specific roles based on specialized knowledge and experience to a less restrictive practice where companies seek to hire people that can demonstrate the ability to fill multiple roles yet to be defined. Diverse experiences may become more valuable than specialized knowledge. Training programs will have to adapt so that people can be given the opportunity to be exposed to a broad set of principles and experiences.
One of the challenges we face today is that we are educating the future workforce too narrowly. The education system needs to better prepare students to deal with complexity, use abstraction and decomposition to attack complex problems, and use the appropriate representation for a problem. James Flynn, a professor of political studies at the University of Otago in New Zealand, states, “Students need to be taught to think before being taught what to think about.” In a world where we can easily find answers through searches and the help of AI, it is a lot more important to know what questions to ask than what answers to give.
Soulful discusses how increased productivity due to AI and a new creation-based production system could generate abundance, changing how we think about the economy and the meaning of work. In addition to abundance, we could benefit from technology’s unstoppable deflationary force, which may lower the cost of our basic needs—energy, food, water, communications, transport, education, housing, and healthcare—so that most humans could potentially enjoy a high-quality, low-cost living standard. It also considers the challenges in crossing the chasm between the current realities of inequality, environmental degradation, and economic uncertainty to this new environment where humanity could benefit from the sustainable production of abundance.
Soulful examines threats and opportunities from the advancement of AI and instigates deep reflections and thought-provoking discussions that will open the readers’ minds to new possibilities, preparing us to enter this unfamiliar territory. It provides new insights and investigations from multiple domains, including technology, neuroscience, social psychology, economics, philosophy, and theology. It concludes with a discussion about the soul – the uniquely human trait that is difficult to describe and impossible to impart to machines.
At a time of so much uncertainty and change, Soulful paints an optimistic view of a possible abundant future balanced with a realistic view of the challenges we will face getting there. Order your copy here.