Event Report: C&C User Forum & iEXPO 2017

5th NEC Future Creation Forum
Our Future in an AI world

Predicting the future of technological and scientific progress is anything but an exact science, but two prominent international commentators attempted to do just that at the first open session of NEC Future Creation Forum, held at the C&C User Forum, iEXPO 2017. Dr. Michio Kaku is Professor of Theoretical Physics at the City College of New York and an expert in super string theory, and Kevin Kelly is founding executive director of the WIRED magazine and a reputed expert on cyberculture.

100 years on: The power and wisdom of the gods

Dr. Michio Kaku

I’m going to attempt the impossible and predict the world 100 years from now. I’m a physicist, not a fortune teller but I’ve asked over 300 of the world’s top scientists, Nobel Prize winners, major laboratory directors, and leaders in science one simple question, “What does the future hold?”

Portrait of Dr. Michio Kaku

Professor of Theoretical Physics, City College of New York

Dr. Michio Kaku

Looking first over the next 20 years the artificial intelligence (AI) industry will be bigger than today’s automobile industry, and the design, repair, maintenance, production, servicing of robots will occupy a huge proportion of the economy. Your car will be a robot. You will never have to worry about parking your car. Just talk to your wristwatch and tell your car to park itself.

Interacting with each other will be a combined experience of augmented and virtual reality. Scientists will see DNA molecules and designers will be able to picture cars right in from of them. By placing the internet in an artificially intelligent contact lens, people will be able to simply blink to get connected, whether they be tourists needing to instantly translate what’s around them, stockbrokers needing instant, on-the-ball company analysis in a fast-moving market, real estate brokers needing information on hot properties when out on the streets, or students cramming for exams.

If you need a doctor, Robo Doc will be in your wallpaper or your wristwatch to offer sound medical advice almost for free. If you’re in a car accident in a different country and need a lawyer, ask Robo Lawyer. 20 years from now, we will depend on artificially intelligent systems to interpret the world around us, and they will revolutionize our world.

The power of the gods

If people from 1900 could see us sending rocket ships and satellites into space today, they might consider us sorcerers or wizards that can communicate instantly around the world and travel at supersonic speeds. Given the speed of AI, people in 2100 may appear to have the power of the gods.

So, what of that power? In Greek mythology, Venus had the perfect, immortal body. Over the next 100 years, medicine will help us cure most diseases and seek some form of immortality. After all, why must we die, or grow old? Recent advancement in genetics enables us to compare the genes of thousands of young and old people to understand the aging process. Aging is the accumulation of errors in DNA and cells. The goal will be to fix those genes as they wear out with advanced gene therapy. Already, we can double the life expectancy of some animals, and pinpoint the exact genes that makes cancer in elephants so rare. We can also grow organs from our own cells to prevent rejection. At the same time, we can develop “digital immortality” by mapping the human brain and creating a digital copy.

Scene photo from special session

Another god, Zeus could make his wishes come true. The brain-net is the internet of the future, where we will be able to send emotions, feelings, and sensations to interact telepathically, and access the brain directly to instantly materialize ideas into actual products using 3D printers, for instance. We will also be able to record and preserve memories, and emotionalize movies with inserted feelings. The brain-net will allow us to interact in the same way Zeus communicated with other gods.

From Zeus’ strength of mind to Hercules strength of body, this paralyzed person was able to kick the first football of the Brazilian World Cup by the brain to an exoskeleton.

And finally, to Mercury, the god of speed. Uber is already working to make flying cars and supersonic transport more accessible, cutting travel time between New York and Tokyo from 12 to 3 hours. A true revolution in transportation.

The wisdom of the gods

You may ask if this future is just too rosy. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, believes AI will encourage new industry and prosperity, while Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, fears robots will take over one day. I believe robots will generate new wealth, new industries, and new possibilities for many decades, but, as robots develop self-awareness perhaps by around 2100, there is a potential threat which needs to be addressed.

Scene photo from special session

To use the power of a god safely requires the wisdom of the gods. Wisdom that stems from intense democratic debate to ensure this godlike technology is used exclusively to promote human benefit, social equality, and universal prosperity.

> To be continued:
'Immersive computing over the next 20 years' by Kevin Kelly