Artificial Intelligence: How long will it last?

During an interesting talk on the pace of innovation, I came to know that any new technology follows a general trend – The Innovation Sigmoid. A new technology experiences an exponential growth until it reaches a point beyond which the growth slows and ultimately matures. Hence, in due time every technology matures and gets disrupted.

Figure 1:    Innovation Sigmoid

Artificial Intelligence, considered as a disruption in data science or statistical prediction, is primarily dependant on data storage. Data storage is nearing its maturity as researchers have reached the limit and are unable to shrink the size of the IC chips further. This makes people think about the lifespan of AI. But most people cannot imagine a technology disrupting AI in the current scenario and expect AI to last at least a 100 years.

Currently, AI is in its Innovation phase with new breakthroughs being announced almost every month – Latest one being DeepMind (which is able to diagnose eye-diseases more accurately than doctors) and Amazon acquiring KIVA robotics (for implanting AI bots to manage their inventory warehouses). It is interesting that all these AI breakthroughs involve reducing human labor. Some people suggest that AI might face a backlash because of this and might soon come to an end if AI is unable to avoid this backlash.

Figure 2:   KIVA AI bots

Another interesting angle is the cyber terrorism. Too much reliance on AI makes everybody vulnerable to losing their private data to hackers. Hacking is becoming quite a norm and this could be a deterrent to AI. But AI is one among the few tech innovations that have the potential to touch nearly every aspect of human life and coupled with its rapid growth, investors are confident that AI will live much longer than people’s expectations.

Supporting this discussion, Prof. Jim Al-Khalil, president of British Science Association, said “It is quite staggering to consider that until a few years ago AI was not taken seriously, even by AI researchers. And yet we are now seeing an unprecedented level of interest, investment and technological progress in the field, which many people, including myself, feel is happening too fast. But, AI is going to transform our lives in the coming decades even more than the internet has over the last few decades.”

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