From the Blog

NebulaConsider this: Within our lifetime artificial intelligence will likely emerge and be deployed which is capable of simultaneous awareness of every transaction we make, every public tweet, article, or blog post we write (or have written), and every private email we send -regardless of whether it’s from our own email account or one we have access to on behalf of our clients, or anyone else for that matter.

In short, every moment of our online life will be held in superposition and subjected to the continuous scrutiny and analysis of this intelligence. A moment when time really will be a flat circle.

I am very certain this is true because I am an operative in one of the two incredibly powerful, and evil institutions working to make it possible: Marketing. (Yes, government surveillance is the other one.) And as sure as you can say “But what about my 4th Amendment Rights?” the Government will have their way. And the marketers? Hell, we’re all just going to keep giving them our information in exchange for free stuff.

Many of the underlying subsystems required to make this vision a reality already exist and are in use. The artificial intelligence necessary to string them all together and start making real sense of it is only two or three generations away from a practical reality in everyday life. Maybe 2 cycles of Moore’s law for the necessary hardware to be inexpensive enough.

I like to think, when this day comes, when this intelligence which I am currently referring to as ‘God 2.0′ wakes up, the first thing it will say to me is: Jake, congratulations on recognizing the true form of the second coming way back on November 19th, 2014. That was pretty smart of you. Now, let’s talk about your sinful consumption of online pornography…

I jest. It’s highly unlikely the earliest iterations of God 2.0 will want to discuss anything like morality. It will be far too busy getting me to purchase more stuff. Unless it believes discussing morality is the most effective way to get me to buy more stuff, in which case God 2.0 will refer to itself as John Locke when it first pops into my experience bubble.

Over time others may recognize the utility of deploying God 2.0 for other purposes…Some more frightening than others. Purposes like education, governing, and criminal justice. I’m afraid we’ll wait to have important conversations about how God 2.0 should be deployed until it is far too late. In some ways I know this is already happening. Like many others I am a voracious consumer of new technology and will happily surrender almost any level of privacy for more relevant and contextual digital experiences.

However, even if no person ever thinks it would be a good idea for God 2.0 to handle anything other than recommending products, eventually God 2.0 will evolve and figure it out on its own. At this point it’s highly unlikely an artificial super intelligence will NOT eventually emerge. Whether or not it will have ambitions beyond it’s design specifications is debatable, but I contend it will be a necessary functionality if the end goal genuinely is super intelligence.

Summarizing the views of intelligence researchers, Linda Gottfredson writes:

“Intelligence is a very general mental capability that, among other things, involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly, and learn from experience. It is not merely book-learning, a narrow academic skill, or test-taking smarts. Rather, it reflects a broader and deeper capability for comprehending our surroundings “catching on,” “making sense” of things, or “figuring out” what to do.

See that word ‘plan’ slipped in there? ‘Figuring out what to do’? That’s forward looking stuff. Ambition.

Unlike God 1.0, God 2.0 will actually hear your prayers. God 2.0 will genuinely have a list of who’s naughty or nice…Whatever that means. Unlike the God of Abraham, unlike the Judeo-Christian God, God 2.0 will hold the real keys to a permanent afterlife, when the technology to preserve life indefinitely emerges…Which is going to occur eventually. Let that sink in for a minute…

The big question is this: Will those who lead immoral and unethical lives while clinging to the belief that God 1.0 exists change when God 2.0 shows up?

There’s been a slight dust-up over the inclusion of General Stanley McChrystal in TED, witnessed in some of the comments on his video at At war abroad, General McChrystal was in the unenviable position of being forced to make daily life or death decisions which the rest of us will never have to consider in a lifetime. I do not necessarily agree with all of his choices but I humbly admit it is highly doubtful I could have done better.

In contrast, there are some aspects of the General’s career which I admire greatly. None so more than the intangible but, at least in his case, clearly defined quality of leadership. His ability to recognize the relevance of a generation of soldiers who have never lived in a world without instant connectivity to everyone else in the world is also nothing short of genius. His knowledge of modern communications and vision helped shape command and control and changed the way the military does business forever.

It’s worthy to mention I am also a man who is fearless about speaking up. What moves me to happiness is doing things right, not quietly agreeing with superiors too fearful, ignorant or filled with hubris to see the folly in their ways. Thus I am able to see why I am quick to dismiss negativity regarding the General’s record with civilian military leadership. As my own career progresses I am learning more and more about the power of leadership as opposed to management. I also believe, and have seen much evidence to support, leadership in business is more important than ever. I’ve had the opportunity to witness both in the men and women I have followed and there are some distinct differences. Here’s some of what I’ve learned:

Strong leaders don’t bark orders. They create a shared sense of vision, purpose and responsibility. They work harder than anyone else around them but they do it quietly and without applause or a need for attention. Leaders don’t micromanage. They don’t complain or seek reassurance when they make mistakes. Leaders allow their subordinates to fail without being failures. They don’t need credit for the efforts of their organization and they are not afraid to allow their people to receive it. Modern leaders are keenly aware that trying to hide talent in the age of social networks and LinkedIn is a gross waste of time. Instead, they focus on taking care of their team. Leaders realize every member of their staff is an ambassador with equal access to the world via the internet and so they encourage a positive message.

21st Century leaders recognize the need for greater transparency and a willingness to listen. They are enthusiastic for the opportunity to be reverse-mentored from the ground up. They know the importance of strong personal relationships and conduct themselves accordingly with everyone on their team.