It is said that humanity is on the cusp of a new computing age, one driven by machines capable of autonomously performing tasks never thought possible. Already, it is creeping into nearly every facet of society, silently operating within the devices we use each day. Every time you command Siri or search on Google—it’s there. Soon, we may never again need to drive to the grocery store or even swipe a debit card. This is the application of artificial intelligence, and it’s advancing rapidly.
A quick history lesson: AI’s roots date back to Greek antiquity when the ideas of intelligent robots and artificial beings were incorporated into storytelling and myths. But it was only less than a century ago that AI turned into a very plausible reality. Alan Turing, a British mathematician and computer scientist, was one of the first people to come up with the idea of intelligent machines in the 1950s. Though his ideas were ridiculed at the time, his “Turing Test” has been historically used to determine the level to which a machine can “think.”
But it was not until after he died that the term “artificial intelligence” entered into public awareness. This was mandated by American cognitive scientist Marvin Minsky, who co-founded the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AI laboratory in 1959, and advised Stanley Kubrick on 2001: A Space Odyssey. The film, released in 1968, was the world’s first theatrical representation of AI. And by the 1980s, the invention of the personal computer sparked even more interest in technology that can think for itself.
Today, the term “AI” dwells on the ardent fingertips of every tech writer waiting to cover the next big breakthrough. And recently, there’s been a lot of them: Google Photos is using a powerful AI system called deep learning, capable of identifying images it has never seen before. Facebook M is slated to be the most advanced virtual assistant to date. And most recently, Google’s DeepMind beat a top human player at the game of Go, the ancient Chinese contest of strategy and intellect that’s exponentially more complicated than chess.
On the other hand, though, futurists such as Elon Musk and Steven Hawking are speaking out against AI, declaring it the greatest existential threat to humankind. Much of this criticism stems from the fear of summoning a Terminator-like scenario, and the consequences of making machines that surpass the intelligence of humans. Needless to say, their caution is warranted. AI is premised on giving machines the ability to think, and eventually, teach themselves. So suppose we built a machine with an average IQ of 100—then it created a new version with an IQ of 10,000. What would that mean for us?
Still, we’re nowhere near living alongside full-fledged robots. Throughout the coming years, AI will instead integrate into the systems we’re already using. It will give us unprecedented access to information, and bring efficiency to our high-powered lives. Really, it will teach us a lot before it’s advanced enough to take over our high-intellect jobs (robots are taking over working class jobs already). And even then, we will be the ones there to train it, to fix it, and to upgrade it. AI will be the catalyst of our next technological revolution, and it could happen without the touch of a human hand.
For the Spring 2016 “Gadget Issue” of Resource Magazine, we explore the most powerful, perceptive, and deadly AI tech emerging into society throughout the coming months and years—not the next 100. We also teamed up with teamed up with photographer Jason Leiva to build and photograph a human cyborg with model Stacey Farnet and hair and makeup artist Ninoshka.
For the full story, visit our online shop to pick up a copy of the magazine, or find it at your local Barnes & Noble, photo studio, or prop house. Also in this issue:
Travel Feature: The Untold Culture of CubaResource Travel Editor-in-Chief Michael Bonocore explores the hidden culture of Cuba, from connecting with the locals to compelling street photography and photographic survival guides.
Feature: The Rise of the TechsterThe hipster was so last quarter. See how the tech world is transforming fashion, from wearables to the workplace. Photographed by David Johnson.
Inanimate Objectives??Guest Editor Maurizio Di Iorio combines his advertising-like aesthetic and pop art taste in this collection of imagery that exposes the small, almost imperceptible, anomalies found within our daily actions.
FOCUS: Gadgets?Go deep inside the world of interactive sex and discover how its pioneering the VR space. Learn how to navigate the gadget theft capital of the world. Find out what Inspector Gadget got right about the future of technology, and more. Photo by Wilferd. Modeling by Ela Darling from Cam4VR.
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