For most of human history, technological progress took place at a relatively slow pace. It would take decades or even centuries for life to noticeably change between generations, but with the rapid progress made in the last sixty years, new technologies are being developed at an unprecedented rate. As we use new tech to build on earlier achievements, our collective future begins to look more and more different from the past. To help get a glimpse of what lies ahead, here are five core technologies paving the way for the future.
One of the most significant developments in recent years is the rapidly increasing sophistication of artificial intelligence programs (AI). In the past, AI systems were very inflexible and weren’t able to go beyond the knowledge and abilities of their creators. Today’s AI programs are built around learning algorithms. Rather than build in its capabilities from the start, AI programmers teach the system to learn from new information and to hone its abilities. With this learning-based paradigm, programs start off performing at sub-par levels. But with a few rounds of training, the system quickly improves itself, rapidly getting to a point where it reliably performs better than any human on a range of tasks. This trend has greatly expanded our capabilities in areas such as diagnosing disease, scientific discovery, navigation, tracking consumer preferences, and preventing crime.
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