The Driver in the Driverless Car | Vivek Wadhwa

Summary of: The Driver in the Driverless Car: How Our Technology Choices Will Create the Future
By: Vivek Wadhwa

Introduction

Embark on a journey through a world of rapid technological advancement with Vivek Wadhwa’s eye-opening book, ‘The Driver in the Driverless Car: How Our Technology Choices Will Create the Future’. This book paints a picture of a world transformed through innovations to make lives better, from smart homes and autonomous cars to 3D-printed food and personalized medicine. However, the human race must be prepared to make tough decisions in order to avoid potential chaos and choose an ethical path that focuses on social disparities and fair access to technology. Prepare yourself to dive deep into the crucial topics of artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and the Internet of Things in the midst of emerging societal changes.

The Implications of Ignoring Ethics in Progress

As technology progresses, societies must make tough choices and establish an ethical framework to ensure their advancements don’t lead to a “Mad Max dystopia.” While some envision a future utopia, history has shown that without social systems and infrastructure in place, civilization’s progress can disappear. Societies must prioritize addressing current social disparities and ensuring fair access to the benefits of progress. Without such focus, the risks of depleted resources and social chaos loom large. The message is clear: to shape their own future, societies must embrace ethics in progress.

The Dark Side of Innovation

Initially embraced by society, the microchip revolution led to income inequality and job loss for workers. Big tech has become a symbol of destabilizing effects, leading to acts of violence. The rise of artificial intelligence poses significant challenges and existential threats to humankind. Despite innovators like Elon Musk leading the charge, we worry about losing control and freedom in the face of such rapid transitions. The emergence of “requisite” technologies is integral to solving systemic problems in transportation, energy, and medicine.

The Law of Accelerating Progress

The exponential growth of technology is predicted to bring both prosperity and peril to our society.

Moore’s Law, stating that the number of transistors on silicon chips doubles every 18 months, is driving the advancement of technology at an unprecedented rate. This growth is accompanied by a sharp drop in costs, particularly in fields like genomics, smartphones, and renewables. This fuels the “law of accelerating returns,” where technology booms climb through S-curve patterns of growth, accelerating further paradigm shifts.

From quantum computing to self-learning neural networks, technology is advancing at an incredible pace. With the Internet of Things, everything will drive itself, upgrade itself, turn itself on and off at the right time, and know when it is about to break down. Images of abundance in a bright future include super-efficient homes equipped with robotic gadgets, autonomous cars, and 3D-printed food. Predictions include extended lifespans, universal access to education, energy, and clean water, as well as an end to oil wars and world poverty.

However, the incredible benefits of technology also come with chilling downsides. Loss of privacy, dependency on machines, potentially lethal hardware hacking, and the theft of DNA or other biometric data are just a few of the risks involved. Artificial intelligence is both the most important breakthrough in modern computing and the most dangerous technology ever created by man.

Rapid change is already affecting our lives, and it will continue to do so. The spread of web access and wireless technology is shifting society away from traditional information sources. But coming changes, such as trusting robots to care for loved ones and augmenting our brains, bodies, or DNA, present complex ethical issues that our current systems cannot adequately address. Each individual must engage in debate, interrogation, and engagement to reach an ethical consensus for society to move forward.

Technology’s Unstoppable March

Skype, Airbnb, 23andMe, and Uber are among the companies that have bypassed government regulations in their quest for innovation. Despite facing obstacles such as battling local laws and entrenched taxi firms, they continue to push forward without seeking approval. However, as these technologies advance, it’s essential to ask three crucial questions: Do they benefit all people equally? What are the risks and benefits? And do they promote autonomy or reliance? As society adapts to these changes, it’s necessary to consider their impact on our lives.

The Future of AI and Education

With AI technology evolving at an exponential rate and becoming capable of solving “unstructured problems,” artificial general intelligences or “hard AIs” may soon emerge. Notably, IBM’s Watson knows more about cancer than any human oncologist does, and Symantec’s legal search software outperforms lawyers who conduct searches. With the rise of these intelligent algorithms, machines will take over jobs previously performed by humans. Stephen Hawking warns of the dangers posed by “super intelligences” and advises including fail-safe “kill switches.” However, the innovation of a teaching AI “avatar” supplemented by a human “coach” could enable a one-on-one educational process, with the potential to spur individual talents. This could usher in a new era of education, with massive online open courses delivering on their early promise. With the advent of cheap AI and fast broadband, education could become more accessible and equalized.

Technological Innovations in Medicine

As medical technology advances, it becomes more affordable and accessible, saving countless lives across the world. The HealthCube Pro device, for example, offers multiple diagnostics to those in developing countries and rural areas. Breakthroughs in genetics, epigenetics and the “gut microbiome” provide new insights that would not be possible without innovation. With the use of AI and big data analysis, doctors can handle data more efficiently, while the rise of smartphone-based health monitoring tools sees a “consumerized” approach to healthcare. Intrusive genomics may raise concerns, but disintermediation of healthcare will likely prove highly beneficial. Ultimately, software will emerge as the primary physician.

The Future of Robots

Robots are adept at complex tasks, but struggle with mundane ones. As machine learning improves, personal robots may become more common in households. With an aging population, robots could play a crucial role in caring for the elderly. However, there are ethical considerations to be made about their use. Despite recent calls for bans on autonomous operations that could be deadly, robots are predicted to take over up to 47% of the jobs in the US. Despite this, automation benefits society by bringing potential growth and abundance for all.

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