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IoT Machine Learning – Industrial or Printing Press revolution?

Many people worry that "AI" will usher in a new Industrial revolution where machines replace humans. My take is that it will be more like the Printing press revolution that launched the Age of Enlightenment! The effect will be less of soaring productivity but more of better decision-making leading to a SMARTER society.

 

Part of the problem is the misnomer, "AI or artificial intelligence" (which may be great marketing). Instead, if we called it what it is, i.e., "ML or machine learning", things will sound less ominous and convey a more realistic picture.

 

Machine learning does not float all boats. Baumol effect will persist in markets such as healthcare and education since they are inelastic as far the eye can see; not very likely that IoT or MOOCs will make these sectors significantly more productive (there may be tempting counterexamples such as e-commerce but I do not contribute to the view that Retail Commerce has been totally disrupted and that it will ever be; it will remain labor-intensive). However, there is a silver lining . . . In Neural Plasticity & Machine Learning blog, I make the point that the Internet and the current Machine Learning revolutions are NOT like the Industrial Revolution (of steam engine and electrical machines) which caused productivity to soar between 1920 and 1970; it is more like the Printing Press revolution of the 1400s!

 

Printing press and movable type played a key role in the development of Renaissance, Reformation and the Age of Enlightenment. Printing press created a disruptive change in “information spread” via augmentation of “memory”. Oral tradition depended on how much one can hold in one’s memory; on the printed page, memories last forever (well, almost) and travel anywhere.

 

Similarly, “IoT Machine Learning” (IoT is the framework for deploying ML and hence go together) is in the early stages of creating disruptive changes in “decision making” via augmentation based on Big Data analysis. Humans can process only a very limited portion of Big Data in their heads; networked sensors and devices along with Data Science can make sense of Big Data impacting virtually every sphere of human activity.

 

Will “IoT Machine Learning revolution” create more Michelangelo paintings, fracture religions or give birth to another Scientific method? Hard to know . . . the effects may be in some totally unforeseen domains. However, it is likely that humans will do everything SMARTER with machine learning augmentation – what “enlightenment” may that lead to?!

 

If you are a futurist engaged in advising major corporations on what will happen in the next decade or two, Machine Learning being the next “printing press” (and NOT “industrial”) revolution will have consequences. Machine Learning revolution will not create an industrial-scale soaring of productivity . . . but may launch a NEW “age of enlightenment”! Major corporations ought to position themselves to hasten the growth of this new age of enlightenment and find ways to create value for themselves.

 

I for one am excited about the possibilities and surprises in store in the next few decades.

 

PG Madhavan, Ph.D. - “Data Science Player+Coach with deep & balanced track record in Machine Learning algorithms, products & business”

http://www.linkedin.com/in/pgmad

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