The Future for Me, the Future for You

At 41 years of age, the opportunity for me to participate professionally in the future design landscape of emerging technologies has passed. My university training is not conducive to it. My family responsibilities do not afford me the luxury to try and accrue the significant additional knowledge required. And, it is not clear to me that I would try even if I could. However, as I’ve watched the confluence of emerging technologies in recent years I’ve thought about what I would like to be doing professionally if I could start over. Without question, the problem I would be most interested in helping to solve is developing artificial intelligence in the abstract, or robots in a more concrete manifestation, which fully replace the human brain. This is not an “if” pursuit for humanity; it is a “when.” It is one in which I have a keen interest and, from the standpoint of behavioral psychology, insight.

To be the primary vision setter in such an endeavor I would need some significant degree of training in all of neuroscience, computer science, synthetic biology, behavioral psychology, and materials science. If this vision were to manifest in a robot as opposed to software, I would need training in robotics, as well. I would further benefit from hands-on experience being part of less sophisticated artificial intelligence systems — which nonetheless would be far advanced from what we have today — as well as the creation of some kind of physical products that integrated with or were built upon foundations of human biology. Although proper training, pure genius, and dumb luck — the last being the secret sauce behind more of the best technology companies than you might imagine — could potentially enable a young turk to be the visionary solving this problem, the complexity and perhaps even wisdom required to get it right will likely transcend what the inexperienced can do. After all, Steve Jobs himself could be dismissed as a glorified marketer... that is, until his second act at Apple, well after the gray was creeping in.

What do you want to create in the world? If it is technologically advanced, and you want to be on the vision side of things, get ready for a great deal more science and engineering than you might have once imagined. However, if you are content working on older technologies or prefer to be part of an implementation process as opposed to toward the frontmost visionary contributors, the good news is there is going to be plenty of work to go around for those who are smart, hard-working, and curious.

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