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Building hybrid thinking powered by AI
Since the appearance of the first primates on earth around 55 million years ago, the brain evolution has progressed following a rather flat linear progression.
Then, around 2 million years ago, while the evolutionary line leading to hominins finally became distinct and the Homo Habilis was walking its first steps, the growth rate of its cranial capacity suddenly began to increase exponentially from around 500cm3 to 1.330cm3 of the modern human brain.
Along with its growth in size, brain kept increasing in the number of neurons it contained: from an estimated 40 to 50 billion neurons for Homo Habilis to the 86 billion of a modern adult human. And neurons are heavily involved in determining general information processing capacity (IPC), as reflected by general intelligence.
The new ‘extra’ portion of the brain that our ancestors gained, the neocortex, together with the high availability of neurons, is what makes us so special by giving us extraordinary cognitive abilities including feelings, language, thinking, planning, and personality. Equipped with such unique, powerful and creative brain, humans have started an unprecedented journey to discover the mysteries of life, creating striking innovations and amazing tools to augment their abilities.
In our recent history, we accelerated the pace of our evolutionary journey, going through four industrial revolutions that deeply transformed the way we live and operate in all fields.
And here we are…in the middle of the fourth revolution which genesis is situated at the dawn of the third millennium with the emergence of the Internet.
This is the first industrial revolution rooted in a new technological phenomenon -digitalization- rather than in the emergence of a new type of energy. This digitalization enables us to build a new virtual world from which we can steer the physical world thanks to technology such as Cloud, Big Data Analytics, the Internet of Things…and, yes…Artificial Intelligence which in its purest benchmark is referred to as a technology that strives to mimic human intelligence.
While “Pure AI” might sound more related to science-fiction movies rather than real applicable technology, the so called “Pragmatic AI” or “Narrow AI” resonate much more practical and interesting in the mid-term. Basically: instead of approaching at once the infinite complexity represented by the entire universe of the cognitive possibilities that are offered by our human brain, powered by its 86 billion neurons, let’s start by braking it into smaller, simpler chunks of specialized abilities.
These abilities, like interpreting the meaning of images, audio or text constitute the building blocks of a much wider, complex and widely yet unknown, intelligence architecture.
Developing these specialized abilities involve the correct configuration and implementation of foundational machine learning algorithms, tasks and concepts including: learning, training and the identification of specific features which will determine the quality with which the machine will be able to use the available models to autonomously learn new things and concepts.
Machine learning is based on a broad set of systems and fascinating methodologies like Neural Networks and Deep Learning, which tend to mimic the way we think our brain works. And while artificial intelligence and deep learning capabilities are rapidly progressing thanks to the continuous technological evolution which brings new unthinkable processing powers and storage capacities, they are not the only one to progress. Among others, new amazing discoveries and revolutions are happening in the fields of bio-technologies and giant steps have as well been made towards the understanding of how our brain works.
Now, let’s take a deep breath and put all of this together…with a little touch of very human imagination…
After the evolution triggered by the accelerated growth of the human brain size 2 million years ago, mankind has begun a journey for building the ultimate tool, the one which will provide a quantic leap into the development of an unprecedent level of intelligence and not yet predictable augmented abilities which will change the humans forever: a new – artificial – neocortex.
This new artificial neocortex will exist in the cloud (I’d like to call it the “cloud-cortex”) and be connected directly to our brains through the means of BMIs (Brain to Machine Interfaces) which will extend our current mental computational power and serve all mankind at once bringing new, limitless possibilities.
Imagine the… unimaginable abilities that we could reach, by connecting our organic network of neurons to the virtually infinite ‘global data repository’ provided by the cloud and operated by specialized AI engines. Think just about how that would impact the way we learn as we could gather all the available knowledge on any specific subject just by thinking about it regardless that being an historical fact or how we operate a brand-new device we never used before or about the person we are about to meet. And this is just the simplest examples of what this new re-evolution could bring.
I know. It’s exciting…and very scary.
And while it’s not going to happen overnight…it’s not science-fiction either and it will happen, probably sooner than we think.
So, at the dawn of a new era (will that be the 5th industrial revolution/evolution?) let’s stay pragmatic and try to learn more about what is going on, what Pragmatic AI can actually do for us today, what are the basic algorithms that allow machines to learn, where we stand with BMIs technologies and much more…