EMERGENT INTELLIGENCE IS A WEB OF DEMOCRATIC DEVICES

Sensors and gadgets clamour to be heard

After all these years, we’re still stuck with basic artificial intelligence. AI has not matured to the ‘general’ level, where machines are as smart as humans. Which may be a good thing. There’s no dark lord that’s going to turn us all into paperclips!

But intelligence is now embedded in so many local devices, cameras, sensors and drones, that we are surrounded by a cloud of things that can debate the state of the world around us. And come up with some pretty useful conclusions.

You walk into a meeting room. The room camera recognizes you. Your wristband or watch knows you are irritated and restless, perhaps overheated. The thermostat reports the temperature in the room is rising. Colleagues in the meeting have their own gadgets, and their feelings are vying for attention.

Democracy wins, and the aircon is turned up, or down. The lights dim and the presentation starts, as the room confirms everyone is now seated. Your phone intelligently switches to silent and changes your online status to ‘busy’.

What just happened? Basic AI is now available in all these devices, so they don’t need clunky interfaces. But they all have their own opinions, just like people. So they have to collaborate to achieve intelligent decisions, which change in real time.

This is Emergent AI, a web of smart devices that can form a crowd on a local level, and deliver the wisdom of crowds, without the need for high bandwidth, big data and super computers.

“It’s the on-chip neural networks from TerraDeep in these devices that make it all happen,” says neuroscientist Vivienne Ming, “but the fact is, we don’t really know how they collectively arrive at their conclusions. It’s invisible chaos, but it works!”

Welcome to the world of enchanted objects; intelligence all around you. It’s a bit chaotic behind the scenes, but that’s democracy for you!

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

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