Farming completely changed how we spent our days. Indoor Plumbing and Sewage made cities liveable. A museum guide in Stockholm told my cousins wide eyed little girl that they used to be able to smell the city 15km away. Urbanisation has been rapid. Horses disappeared (as workers) and we got cars. We got electricity. We got the internet. How we spend our time can be completely upended. The UK is still recovering from the social turmoil of a large chunk of its population getting the rug pulled by the closure of mines. That rug is readying itself for those in white collar jobs with Artificial Intelligence knocking on the door.
The Origins of Agriculture - Changing Everything
What are some of the other changes that could change everything? One I get very excited about is driverless cars. I love the idea of streets free from cars that aren't moving or picking someone up. I love the idea that young people (Parent's taxi) and old people will no longer be dependent on someone for a lift. But, something that blows the excitement of driverless cars out the water is Artificial Intelligence. Tim Urban has done two long posts introducing the idea. The first post looks at what it is and how far we are on the path. The second post looks at the implications.
We really can't even imagine how much life could change. Virtual Reality where you can be anywhere, doing anything, as anyone (Matrix Style), not just as spectator but with the ability to feel, smell and engage. Asking Google questions that could take you four years of study to process, where Google can present the information to you, and teach you. Or just answer the question. Perhaps something as simple as well timed reminders to call your Mom, because she is free, and looking at a picture of you.
One of the questions in Artificial Intelligence is 'self awareness'. At what point does the computer become aware of itself as a separate thing. I think this is ironic, when looking at some of the deeper thinkers on happiness. Happiness may come from a realisation that we are not separate. People seem good at being self aware, but this is often an impediment. One of my problems with a focus on performance management of individuals is it constantly reinforces the individual self. We become so scared of making mistakes, judgement, failure etc. When the focus shifts to the bigger self, some of the panic disappears.
The part of Artificial Intelligence that excites me most is the ability to increase our awareness of our part in the bigger picture. A driverless car can be aware of what is going on at every angle around it. A driver can only think of one thing at a time. Perspective is a great source of well being.