Dr Lawrence Alexandre, of whom we have spoken in two previous posts (“The Future : The War of Intelligences”, December 19, 2017, and “A Wonderful World – or Dystopia – I Will Not See”, October 10, 2018) has a weekly page for his reflections on Artificial Intelligence, “Tomorrow will make your head spin”, in L’Express, a widely read and respected review. Unless you read French you can’t keep up with what he is describing as a new world, so I thought to give you a thumbnail sample of some of the themes he has covered in his January 2018 articles. Food for thought – and perhaps triggers for your own research on the subject, in English language books and magazines.
“God” will be more and more absent as we enter a world where He will be replaced by what Yuri Harari has called “Homo Deus”, as our destiny becomes more and more dependent on Artificial Intelligence, and where robots will be more present and pertinent than religions.
- January 10, 2O18 : The “good old days” weren’t. The domestic availability of water, heat and light has made giant advances in the last two centuries. The author offers details in the progress of the domestication of these three essentials we now take for granted. The light from a candle, for instance, is roughly 1% of that provided by a 100-watt lamp (13 lumens compared with 1200 !), and is much less expensive than what candles used to cost. The cost, power and size of integrated circuits, essential to A.I. , have evolved to our advantage, according to the law of Gordon Moore, their power doubling, at constant cost, every one to two years.
- January 17 : Bitcoins, the virtual crypto-currency created in 2008 and much in the news because of the recent explosion of their marketing value, are, according to Lawrence Alexandre, “indispensable for financing technological revolutions”. Railways in the 19th century ruined many investors but created a rail network on every continent. In the year 2000, the bursting of the Internet bubble likewise ruined many investors (including the creator of this Blog !) but “from it emerged a cyber world”. Will bitcoin-block chains resemble the 1637 Dutch folly of trading with tulips as currency ? The author thinks not, but admits that Warren Buffet says bitcoins “will end badly”. He adds, however, that the JP Morgan bank regrets calling them a “swindle”.
- January 24 : Europe, and France in particular, are shooting themselves in the foot in not promoting and financing the development of giant data-bases. We are thus “permitting Chinese and American businesses to prosper without European competition”. We are becoming their “vassals”.
- January 31 : Alexandre quotes some surprising statistics on the recent lowering of the I.Q. of children in France ( – 4 points) and its increase in Singapore ( + 10 points). The cause ? Intelligent, educated Frenchwomen are choosing to have fewer children, while the birth of more children of less gifted mothers is encouraged by State financing. “Social Security should reimburse 100% of the cost of freezing the ovules of women scientists to allow them to have children (“bébés tardifs” !) after their Ph.D.” ! Doctor Alexandre reminds us that “the DNA of the mother is significantly more important than that of the father in determining the I.Q. of children” . . .