From big data to big intelligence: how far apart is that? Will we really end up being smarter?
The two terms are already closely interlinked and cannot be easily separated. They feed on each other. Intelligence is based on information and the special way it is processed in order to create meaningfulness, which in turn can crystallise in the form of positive actions. The processing possibilities alone are not very useful, seeing as they are not applied in real-life situations, like for example when one is playing a game of Go. And data alone are not much more useful, especially since there is such an enormous amount of the stuff. So those who succeed in combining the two are the real winners and they’re often the same players. In this regard, IBM takes a unique approach, tailored to specific contexts such as healthcare or urban planning, whereas Google has an important advantage in these areas: with this, I mean by adapting the way we work to the behaviour of the individual.
Is it really revolutionary to watch how a computer wins at Go or a car drives itself?
The effects are far-reaching: the limits of what only humans can do are being more narrowly defined. Driving is inherently a function of multitasking. The game of Go requires strategic thinking and intuition. When such complex activities are taken over by machines, we have no choice but to redefine intelligence and the essence of being human.
“The real difficulty is putting your head around change.”
Does this represent a turning point for mankind?
It’s indeed a decisive moment for all of us. Through the age-old delegation of manual skills to the mechanical and the practical utilisation of energy and metals, mankind already experienced a tremendous upheaval. Nowadays, we are witnessing a delegation of our cognitive abilities, meaning the practical utilisation of energy and information. This admixture of mechanical and cognitive delegation is very powerful and extremely effective. Autonomous driving and industrial robotics are just a few of the outgrowths. So we have to imagine the world of the future differently.
Must we fear those developments, or can we look forward to them?
From a political standpoint, this is a unique opportunity for emancipation, but it will only emerge as freedom if it is actively and thoroughly thought out – this because it concerns the very foundations of our modern democracies, the distribution of added value amongst the various stakeholders, and the place of the individual in the community. The entire subject harbours a rare complexity.
“Will the increased productivity attributable to digitalisation create more quality time for us, or will we merely end up investing it in other tasks? And this brings us back to the issue of how to simply chill out and stay on an even keel.”
Are you alluding to the concentration of productivity, like what already seems to be arising as a result of the GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) phenomenon?
This expression is extremely troublesome, given that the companies you mention have nothing to do with each other, except for the fact that they only gained importance thanks to mobile telephony, the Internet and the digitalisation of everyday life. Their business models differ greatly, especially in terms of big data. If you need convincing, it suffices to follow the money trail and simply ask yourself who their customers are: by and large, Apple’s customers are users, Amazon’s customers are buyers and sellers, and Google’s and Facebook’s customers are advertisers.
That said, the concentration risk has remained completely unaddressed. And with the evolution of artificial intelligence, this concentration still has much further to go. It should come as no surprise that Google is also increasingly active in the areas of mobility and health maintenance. Apple and telephony are nowadays essentially synonymous, but ten years ago that was by no means a certainty.