Implications of Artificial Intelligence on Innovation at the Intersections

A lot of innovation happens at the intersection between two (or more) different fields. You take an approach normally used in a certain field and apply it to another where it hadn’t been tried before, or you take a technology (lasers) and you figure out a way to apply it to your seemingly unrelated problem (storing music).

For example, in the field of biogerontology, the approach used so far was the scientific one. Let’s figure out how things work, and then we can try to solve problems. Aubrey de Grey‘s major insight was to sidestep the whole process by taking an engineering approach; We don’t need to understand the whole system, we just need to learn enough so that we can get the results we want. It’s easier to learn how to repair a house periodically than to learn how to built a house that never gets damaged…

But nowadays, no human can claim to know everything that humanity as a whole knows. Even if we limit it to scientific knowledge, it’s simply impossible. If all you did was speed-read scientific journals 24/7, and you had the training to understand everything you read, you’d probably still be slower than the rate at which new knowledge accumulates.

Even within fields (mathematics, physics, biology, etc), people are becoming more and more specialized, and there are fewer individuals who look at it all from a distance to see possible new connections.

To me that seems to be one of the major benefits that would come from an artificial general intelligence (AGI). Even if we put aside for a moment the fact that when mature its hardware would be much faster than a human brain, and that it would improve itself recursively to become smarter and smarter (the Intelligence Explosion school of the Singularity), just the the ability to store and perfectly recall pretty much the sum of human scientific knowledge would give it a massive advantage over any human scientist or engineer. It would combine the benefits of both specialists and generalists.

How many discoveries are staring humanity in the face right now, but there is no single individual on Earth who possess the knowledge required to connect the dots?

The Internet is already expanding the amount of information that can be accessible to a single person, but that person has to actively look for something (Google it, etc). It’s not the same as having that information ‘passively’ reside in your brain until the right moment when you ask yourself a question and the answer gets formed from a number of elements you already knew.

So while we wait for AGI, we could benefit from having more generalists, or at least, more communication between specialists in different fields.


6 Responses to “Implications of Artificial Intelligence on Innovation at the Intersections”

  1. crazyasuka Says:

    Yes I’m sure a lot could come out from connecting the dots. I personally wish I’d know everything but my brain is not that advanced. 😛

  2. The Electric Pulse Says:

    Very interesting point.

    Even so, and despite my fascination with the future, I get a little “uh oh” feeling reading this post. The moment when AI starts synthesizing research to create new discoveries is truly where we let go of the wheel. I know it is inevitable given continued increase in computing ability, but the feeling of total inferiority can’t help but give me pause.

  3. Michael Graham Richard Says:

    I totally agree. My observation was a bit abstract, I’ll admit.

    That’s why we have to be so careful in working out Friendly AI theories before we try to build smarter than human intelligence.

  4. Trevor Says:

    What about integrating the human mind with an AI? A Human being with a neural prosthesis that collects and organizes information for instantaneous total recall? Technoschizophrenia?

  5. Michael Graham Richard Says:

    Trevor, that’s certainly an interesting concept, but it might actually turn out to be harder to do than making an AGI from scratch.

    The reason is that the human brain was evolved, and is thus very messy and undocumented.

    But I don’t see anything in the laws of physics making it impossible, so unless something terrible happens (see global catastrophic risks), technology will probably progress to the point where that’s possible.

  6. Lesia Gardin Says:

    Just would like to share some goals that I would like to accomplish this year in order to grow as a person: 1)Make an effort to make someone’s day brighter once a week. 2) Give of myself by Volunteering far more and contribute within my community. 3) Get in shape to run a half marathon before the end of the year 4) Get rid of unnecessary or negative stressors in my life <a href=””>Lesia Gardin 5) Collect new recipes and create a recipe binder, attempt new things, be more creative with food and eat healthier 6) Make an effort to stay in contact with friends and family. 7) Get far more sleep!

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