They promised us jetpacks

‘You are not thinking. You are merely being logical.” Mr. Spock being admonished by Captain Kirk on the Starship Enterprise? Actually, this quote belongs to Danish physicist and Nobel laureate Niels Bohr.


Let’s try another one. “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” That observation belongs to none other than iconic 20th-century genius Albert Einstein.


Hmmm . . . two guys you would expect to be all in are not exactly embracing logic and numbers. Today, there’s always an app that will organize data and deliver results quickly and cheaply. But what is it delivering?


A dog has four legs, a cat has four legs; therefore, a dog is a cat. Ok, that was unfair, but so is allowing a keyword search to grade a college essay or screen a job opportunity. Bohr and Einstein knew that logic and data without critical analysis and common sense could skew the outcome.


Enter Artificial Intelligence (AI), which puts data in context and learns from its mistakes. Hence, a dog is not a cat.


So why are a lot of high-profile technologists like Bill Gates and Elon Musk warning us about the potential dark side of AI? Even the late physicist Stephen Hawking said that “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” To quote the eminent Alfred E. Neuman, “What, Me Worry?”


Oh, for the more innocent time of the 1964 New York World’s Fair, which showcased the pure wonderment of science and technology. A future of convenience. But even that had its failings.


They promised us jetpacks. I’m still waiting for mine.