Depending on who you talk to, Artificial Intelligence (or "AI") either makes you fear that the end of the world is now imminent or gets you excited about the possibilities of improving the quality of our human lives. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about AI, but many experts say that the benefits outweigh the risks.
Several weeks ago, there was a major breakthrough in the world of AI.
AI successfully defeated some of the world's top professional poker players in a high stakes game. After several failed attempts, it was the first time AI had ever won. And AI won big.
How did AI do it? It bluffed its way to victory.
For non-poker players, the bluff is what makes poker such an interesting game. It's the art of deception where you try to convince your opponents that you have something in your hand very different than you really have. It's about setting patterns of play such that you can deceive your opponent in the moment and over the long course of a game into thinking they know how you are going to behave.
In other words, it's kind of about being really good at lying (in a very constructive way, of course).
Now that AI can lie and deceive better than us humans, why not explore the possibilities of what this could mean? If I know my evolutionary science (which I probably don't), I think opposable thumbs and the ability to deceive got us to the top of the food chain.
Maybe we're about to get dethroned.
Interesting business possibilities
The first thought that comes to mind is taking us humans out of the equation and letting AI do all of the hard work on large contract negotiations.
How great would it be to bring my "AI bot" to the negotiating table (or I guess now it would be the negotiating computer screen) to outsmart, deceive, and manipulate the pathetic human on the other side of the contract negotiations?
We'd win every time.
Of course, other companies would quickly get smart to it and start to bring their own AI bot negotiators. Then it might be like some form of Robot Wars, except instead of two mechanical robots attempting to slice and dice each other physically, we'd have two AI bots duking it out via a computer screen.
That's probably not quite as graphically exciting as robots bludgeoning each other, but it would give us humans some valuable time back in our busy work lives. Maybe we'd play poker or something. We clearly need the help.
Then again, who of us humans would really know if the two AI bots actually decided that they didn't want to engage in negotiation combat and instead ended up colluding with each other as a way of manipulating us humans? I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but it could happen.
Conspiracy theory aside, it seems like it would be worth the risk, especially if it got me out of those nasty, drawn out contract negotiations which I generally despise.
But why limit ourselves to having AI just do contract negotiations for us?
We could have them actually run big parts of the business for us. We could get them involved in the highly strategic world of mergers and acquisitions. Every company could have lots of AI bots out there doing the work, building AI bot relationships, strategically maneuvering around the business landscape while us humans hung out in Vegas.
It might get really interesting for us to watch. Who's to say that the AI bots wouldn't form alliances out there to help them lie, deceive and manipulate their way to success? One AI bot could bluff its way into a big business opportunity by aligning with two other AI bots only to reveal later that it was part of a larger plan to buy those other two AI bots out.
Actually, that kind of sounds like human behavior but just done much more effectively. In some ways, it feels like an interesting combination of reality TV's Survivor, Big Brother and The Apprentice.
Maybe AI could take reality TV to a new level, too. All of us humans could sit around on Tuesday nights watching AI bots building and destroying alliances with the ultimate goal of getting a business leadership role working for one of the best and most lucrative AI bot's thriving real estate business. We'd be kind of useless in the grand scheme of things by that point anyway.
The future possibilities seem endless even if slightly fatalistic.
There's my first pass at being a technology futurist. I think I've made a pretty compelling case for not having a thriving career as a technology futurist. Or maybe I'm more clairvoyant than you might think.
If AI Apprentice makes it onto the airwaves at any point in the next few years, I'm going to expect significant royalty checks from the AI bot executive producers. That being said, they'll probably be able to deceive me into thinking I'm getting a bigger piece of the pie than I really am.