Technology augmentation: the future of AI is not all it seems


The world has entered a new ‘information’ age and the pace of change means it is increasingly hard to predict the future. But Maurice Conti, chief innovation officer, Alpha, which is billed as Europe's first moonshot factory, believes the future will revolve around ways in which the natural capabilities of humans are augmented by technology.

Speaking at the 2018 Cayman Alternative Investment Summit in a presentation called 'Automation and artificial intelligence: a brave new world', Conti argued that the reality of the future will not look as it may be portrayed in Hollywood movies – instead, technology will enhance the capabilities of human beings.

He argued that anyone who owns a smart phone is already a cognitive augmented cyborg – because you are directing technology to enhance your knowledge and understanding at the touch of a button. “But machines still do nothing without of explicit direction – we force our will onto our tools as we have done for millions of years,” he said.

He said the next step, which is already being taken, is for a computer to be instructed to find a solution to something within certain parameters. He showed an example where a machine had been instructed to make the most efficient design for the body of a drone. It was able to explore millions of options and geometries that human beings could not imagine before arriving at the idea solution. Interestingly, the design was almost identical to the pelvis of a squirrel. “Evolution works in a very similar way,” he noted.

“Most computers have to start from scratch every day because they never learn,” he said. “The rate of change is getting faster but there is no reason to believe that an artificial intelligence will be created based on human intelligence. Firstly, we barely understand our own intelligence, never mind replicate it. Secondly, there are many types of intelligence – why base it on ours. And finally, anything like that remains a long way off even for those at the cutting edge of things.”

Instead, he believes the future of AI for now will revolve around the develop of very specific machines able to solve specific problems – such as the case with the drone. “We will move into the age of technology augmentation, however, which could be the next great era for our species. It is an incredible moment in time and the time to get on the bus is now,” he said.

2018 Cayman Alternative Investment Summit, Technology, Artificial intelligence, Maurice Conti, Alpha, Cayman Islands

Cayman Funds