I’ve long been a fan of the idea of Futurism. It seems that Futurism and Modernism have started to fade away from the public consciousness and are often ridiculed and insulted by many Post-modern “thinkers.” They claim that Modern society has failed to provide the gains that it promised and thus we should abandon the whole futurism concept.
This article gives me another good reason why this isn’t true. In particular,
There’s this stupid myth out there that A.I. has failed, but A.I. is everywhere around you every second of the day. People just don’t notice it. You’ve got A.I. systems in cars, tuning the parameters of the fuel injection systems. When you land in an airplane, your gate gets chosen by an A.I. scheduling system. Every time you use a piece of Microsoft software, you’ve got an A.I. system trying to figure out what you’re doing, like writing a letter, and it does a pretty damned good job. Every time you see a movie with computer-generated characters, they’re all little A.I. characters behaving as a group. Every time you play a video game, you’re playing against an A.I. system. —Rodney Brooks, director of the MIT AI Lab5
I still run into people who claim that artificial intelligence withered in the 1980s, an argument that is comparable to insisting that the Internet died in the dot-com bust of the early 2000s.6 The bandwidth and price-performance of Internet technologies, the number of nodes (servers), and the dollar volume of e-commerce all accelerated smoothly through the boom as well as the bust and the period since. The same has been true for AI.
The technology hype cycle for a paradigm shift—railroads, AI, Internet, telecommunications, possibly now nanotechnology—typically starts with a period of unrealistic expectations based on a lack of understanding of all the enabling factors required. Although utilization of the new paradigm does increase exponentially, early growth is slow until the knee of the exponential-growth curve is realized. While the widespread expectations for revolutionary change are accurate, they are incorrectly timed. When the prospects do not quickly pan out, a period of disillusionment sets in. Nevertheless exponential growth continues unabated, and years later a more mature and more realistic transformation does occur.
The same is true of any number of futurist ideas. They were frequently overhyped and oversold, but in the background they’ve continued to march forward and give us realistic transformations.