Soon – sooner than you may think – robots will be smarter than we are. Make the most of the next 30 years. That’s how long you’ve got to enjoy feeling vaguely superior to machines.

According to Ray Kurzweil, Google’s director of engineering and one of the world’s leading experts in artificial intelligence, we have until 2045 to celebrate our intellectual advantages over computers. That’s when we’ll hit “singularity,” a point at which machine intelligence will be infinitely more powerful than all human intelligence combined. Kurzweil says that intelligence will then radiate outward from the planet until it saturates the universe. In other words, AI will do more good than harm.

Some aren’t so sure.

What we do know is that the AI sector is becoming increasingly powerful, and investment is soaring. Signposts along the road to singularity include automated intelligence (we use software programs to automate human processes), augmented intelligence (we augment the physical world with a digital layer), advertising intelligence (smart channels, optimized systems) and ambient intelligence (electronic environments that are sensitive and responsive to the presence of people or that inform without intrusion). While we gaze into a potentially astonishing future, this issue of BLINK will tackle these early stages of the AI revolution, how it’s already impacting our lives, and how marketing will be affected along the way.

Programmatic buying, for example, promises a world where you can deliver 60,000 customized versions of your advertising message to your potential customers, but we need to be aware that very similar algorithms are powering ad-blocking software; if we’re becoming programmatic, so are consumers.

You might be quite pleased with your latest wearable, because it tells you how many steps you’ve walked today. Chris Dancy, meanwhile, known as “the most connected man on earth” uses several hundred sensors to quantify his entire existence. “Rather him than me,” you might be thinking, but his extraordinary experiments with “data-assisted living” offers up clear insights into how we will all be engaging with technology in the near future.

Jonathan Oliver, Global Head of Innovation at AOL, believes that we need to ensure that the tech is designed to fit into our lives, rather than the other way round; while Neil Jacobstein, Artificial Intelligence & Robotics Co-Chair at the Singularity University offers expert insight into how we as humans need to prepare for the future by becoming more literate.

I hope you enjoy this read and find the potential of AI as fascinating as I have.

Stephen Allan

What We Talk About When We Talk About AI
The Sports Connection