A very scary future and nowhere to run or hide

Ordinary day-to-day devices like fridges have more intelligence than a bloke on the street

Graphic By TMR

IT FEELS like it is always summer in the future. Even on a cold wet night during a dead winter, it feels like Henry James’ “Summer afternoon — summer afternoon”. That is the future technocrats are selling to the world.

A connected world, dominated by geeky code creators and technologists, churning out billions of lines of codes and algorithms in some basements.

A gigantic neural network based on learning algorithms that reduce humans’ roles to a 286-based Intel chip with a maximum speed of 12.5 MHz.

Artificial intelligence (AI) with the promises of Zion. Devices that have almost all human-like characteristics, operating based on computational logic. Machine learning is constantly learning with the aim of replacing mankind. Tech geeks don’t over-egg the pudding with their vision of the future.

Machines-based call centres are already answering queries. AI is replacing tasks. Robotic arms with a precision of a sniper, but without fatigues and errors of judgements. Machines that work on weekends and don’t go on medical leave.

Soon, someone will map the human brain to the last 100 billion nerve cells or neurons and we have “mankind” planted into a robot on silicon the size of a Mars chocolate bar.

Hundreds of millions of jobs will be replaced. Humans will become less relevant for many tasks.

Currently, the leathers of expensive cars are being cut to the millimetre-precise by laser-guided cutter. Robotic arms welding the body parts to the chassis.

Bank tellers are replaced by Internet banking. AI is processing loan applications. Accountants would have lesser roles. Engineering drawings can be drawn by computers. Call centres are manned by learning machines. The factory line will be automated under the Industrial Revolution 4.0.

The era of the machine is here. Ordinary day-to-day devices like fridges have more intelligence than a bloke on the street, beeping the owner when the vegetable is rotting or reminding a husband to get the milk or face the wrath of the wife. The Internet of Things dominates our lives.

Grab drivers will become obsolete. Autonomous cars will fetch and send you to your workplace.

You are monitored. Two billion people are connected to the Internet.

Tech giants like Google LLC already knew what you did yesterday, what you read, where you from, which city do you reside, what do you search on the World Wide Web, what’s your interest and dislikes and sites you visited.

Facebook Inc knows what is posted by its 2.5 billion active users, what pictures they share and their comments, likes and hatred. One billion pictures enter the public domain daily. Food delivery companies know what you order, the frequency of your orders, the types of food you love and which shops are the preferred ones. Telcos already know your location to the metre-precise the moment you switch on your phone.

Computers can predict where you will likely be tomorrow at 10am with almost 80% accuracy based on your routines. Countries that are heavily wired with CCTV know your whereabouts the moment you enter the country with facial recognition applications.

If anything, the future will not be like an afternoon during summer. It is a scary future like having Skynet in the “Terminator”. The era of the machine is here.


Mohamad Azlan Jaafar is the editor in-chief of The Malaysian Reserve.