The first (1760-1840) and the second (1870-1914) industrial revolutions made people richer and more urban. Now, a “smart revolution” is under way. A number of fascinating technologies are converging and giving rise to clever software, novel materials, dexterous robots, new processes (like 3D printers) and a whole range of customised web‐based services. When compared with previous industrial revolutions, this is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace. It is disrupting almost every industry in every country. The possibilities of everything getting connected to everything through IoT, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, are unlimited. All these possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technologies like CPS, along with breakthroughs in ‘smart-ness’ of artificial intelligence.
The technology behind artificial intelligence is really intriguing, and what it will turn into forces us to rethink everything we know about the meaning and purpose of life and work. The pace at which Machine Learning, Data Science, Big Data Analytics, etc. are driving, AI calls for a good need to discuss whether we really need AI, or we are calling for mass unemployment.
Smart people who will build AI will still have savvy jobs, but there is a real bargain to make about the unskilled labourers. What we argue is that humans are way too smart in their respective domains - AI just helps them do things easily. For instance, consider a simple “chaiwala” replaced by an AI vending machine. There may be two sides to the story. The “chaiwala” may own the vending machine and make money, or he may act as a human supervisor over the vending machine and teach it to make the perfect cup of “chai”, customised for every season and for every customer. Humans are meant to build a great world, so why not leave the petty jobs to AI?
Humans have been printing maps and following compasses for centuries. Now, GPS along with AI can give real time traffic information to the commuters, and maybe even provide a better route to their destination. Earlier, humans used to make weather predictions taking all factors in mind. Now, we have our own personalised weather forecast apps that can remind us to take an umbrella if it predicts a rainfall. Personal assistants like ‘Siri’ can make a common man feel like a VIP by reminding him about his daily appointments. AI will also make it faster to extract insights from population‐level health data and make more personalised diagnoses and treatments possible. There are many such instances where people depend on AI for their day to day survival.
All that AI needs is lots of data. Earlier, all the paper work and data used to be stacked on racks, and forgotten. If somebody analysed the data, it turned out to be useful or else the files were just discarded as trash. It was impossible for humans to analyse such large volumes of data. So, they started using computers. Now, if there are complex relationships in the data, or the data itself is unstructured, incomplete or complex; it is hard for humans to solve it using simple mathematical tools. That is where humans need AI ‐ to convert the trash to knowledge.