For as long as there has been science fiction, there have been stories about the inevitable rise of machines and the day that comes when our intelligence is surpassed by one of our own creations. Is this the next stage in our development as a species, or a story that will continue to be told as fantasy?
Introducing the ‘technological singularity’
Those who believe that this is part of our upcoming future have coined the phrase ‘technological singularity’. This is the point in which an AI machine will overtake our own human intelligence and the creation of a new ‘superintelligence’ is born. A time when they will be able to self-improve, learn and grow without human intervention. Futurist Raymond Kurzweil has noted in his book ‘The Singularity is near’ that this ‘evolution’ could happen as early as 2045.
“Artificial intelligence will reach human levels by around 2029. Follow that out further to, say, 2045, we will have multiplied the intelligence, the human biological machine intelligence of our civilization a billion-fold.” – Raymond Kurzweil
What happens at the point of ‘technological singularity’ is one of the more fascinating conundrums that we as a species face in our future. One of the more accepted theories is that it will bring on a ‘technology explosion’, with giant advances in our civilisation and surpassing what we believed was possible. Deep space exploration, transhumanism and even immortality may all be real possibilities…
But what does this march towards real artificial intelligence mean for the creative industry? We’re safe, right? A machine could never create art, music, or film?!
Well, I’m sorry to say that even the creative arts are proving no obstacle for our shiny new metallic friends.
We can already see elements of ‘machine learning’ racing to catch up with our once unique ability to create ‘something out of nothing’. Within the last few years we have seen artificial intelligence able to create moving images out of photographs, create an entirely digital video using only audio clips and learn how to make your own writing real.
It may well be sometime before the first AI creative director but it is a fair assumption to make that as the intelligence and sophistication of computational power increases the gap between the human creative consciousness and the AI mind shortens.
As the ‘father of modern computing’, Alan Turing once said ‘machines take me by surprise with great frequency’ and judging by what they have in store for us in the near future, it’s fair to say that they will be surprising us for a long time to come.