Unintended Consequences: Being careful what you wish for

Technological development is a funny old thing. Pretty amazing new stuff (PANS) are initially created often out of a need or opportunity in society then frequently weaponised by others at a later date.

This is not new: Gutenberg, the German craftsman designed a device to mass-print profitable vernacular Bibles. Most credit him with inventing printing, but that is only a tiny part of the story. In the end, his invention spurred the Scientific Revolution and the Reformation, undermining the authority of the institution that had dominated political life in Europe for centuries: the Catholic Church.

How’s that for unintended consequences?

Facebook and Twitter didn’t set out to expedite the spread of democracy-poisoning disinformation, but that’s exactly what happened once millions of citizens began relying on them as news sources and bad actors got in on the scene.

Do you really believe that Sam Altman et al will really define how A(G)I is really used? Can you even imagine a world where the initial inventor(s) successfully hold onto an idea once it is disseminated? Google search was proceeded by AltaVista, Yahoo, Excite, and AOL to name a few – where are they now? Social media sprung out of Friends Reunited, MySpace, Usenet, BBS, Compuserve and AOL (see a trend here). And of course, today, physically printing books is regarded as old-fashioned.

The youth of today are, arguably, having their minds poisoned and mental health undermined by the 21st century’s version of the printing press. 600 years after Gutenberg liberated the minds of the young.

So whatever you and the world thinks of AI and where it *should* go, the reality is very different and evolution has shown that the most adaptable survive.

So what’s next? Expect a period of rapid change, early leaders, a bubble market or two, quite a lot of scandal, trillions are made and lost, early corruption of democracy and sovereignty states, lots of “blood on the streets” speeches then magically you’ll wake up to a better world where you don’t need to work and driverless uber-flying-cars take you on day trips to visit the mass cemeteries of those who lost their lives to the rise of the machine.

Dark and over-stated, possibly. But if you are a boomer, less fortunate, or slow on the uptake, then you could so easily be left on the wrong side of history.