A quiet revolution has been happening in our society for quite a while now. It's the revolution of artificial intelligence, or AI.
AI is nothing new. We've been hearing about it for decades. One of its most popular successes was when IBM's Watson defeated two other Jeopardy champions at their own game in 2011. Today, Google's DeepMind is upping the ante, striving to "solve intelligence" and "use it to make the world a better place."
What has been easy to miss over the last couple decades is how quickly and inextricably the power of technology and AI has been integrated into our lives. The Google search is now simply an extension of our own global mind. Cyborgs are a daily reality - notice the person with a hearing aid, pacemaker, or implanted ID chip riding next to you on the subway. And these examples aren't even new - they've been around a while already! The future is already here, weaving into our lives so seamlessly that it has become the present.
With intelligence, artificial or otherwise, comes power. Our knowledge of physics gives us the ability to lift a 70-ton jet off the ground and skyward as though it were lighter than a feather. On the other hand, knowledge of physics also led to the creation of the devastating atom bomb. The lesson? Intelligence must be harnessed within a greater context.
There is no stopping the breakneck speed at which AI and technology are advancing. The big question is How can we harness it best? The answer is a new mandate for our society: We must evolve along with AI and technology.
Scientists at the leading edge of AI and neuroscience are exploring and expanding the limits of human perception, redefining the characteristics of our homo sapiens species that evolved long ago. Our bodies are changing. Our minds are expanding. But are we evolving?
To evolve in this context means to be more self-aware. We must recognize that amidst the change that is happening all around and within us, there is a still, silent center that is home to intelligence itself. And not only intelligence. This center is home to creativity, inspiration, and wellbeing. It is home to innate technologies that lay undiscovered within our own being. It is this home that gives greater context and meaning to AI and technology.
Make no mistake. The potentiality within you is real. It is not a concept, a high, a fleeting experience, or "new age" mumbo jumbo. It is much more than anyone imagines, because imagination itself is an expression of that potentiality. Endeavor to touch this center, to feel it, to remember it once more. To do so is to evolve and become self-aware in a way that technology cannot replicate. This is the unavoidable mandate of our time.
Anoop Kumar, MD, MM is the author of Michelangelo's Medicine: How redefining the human body will transform health and healthcare. He is a practicing emergency physician in the Washington, DC metro area.