The first great industrial achievements occurred at the beginning of the second industrial revolution (1900). They were achieved through a revolution of materials (e.g. rolled iron), new engineering approaches and the organization of projects bringing together thousands of workers involving the management of greater complexity :

1852 First transatlantic ship, the Great Eastern.
1870 Brooklyn Bridge.
1871 Canadian Pacific Railway.
1889 Eiffel Tower.
1903 Panama Canal.

The key dates of the meeting of human intelligence with artificial intelligence are :

1997 DeepBlue supercomputer (IBM) defeated world champion chess, David Kasparov.

2011 Watson computer program (IBM) won the game Jeopardy against two American champions (chapter 4, no 4) :

2014 The computer system Deepmind beat Asian champions in several video games.

2015 The computer program AlphaGo (of Deepmind, acquired by Google in 2014) defeated the Go European champion, Fan Hui, using the Deep Learning approach where the system learns from past efforts.

The five errors

Because it is still in its infancy, we have difficulty anticipating what a digital society is likely to look like and how it will function.

The first error concerns our understanding of the Internet. Currently, most people think that the Internet is a large physical network. In fact, the new Internet-supported generation is more accurately a culture that is already changing the way 25% of global citizens acquire knowledge and establish social relationships.

The second error is to think of a smartphone as just a phone. Only 20% of this device’s activities are telephone services, while 80% are computer services and capabilities. A smartphone in a person’s hand means she or he possess a small laptop that delivers geo-referenced activities, and enables a range of information-based activities (chapter 7, no 7).

The third error is the way the digital society puts information to use. How can we make wise choices as citizens when we create a context of immediacy on the one hand (by flooding the web with more or less validated information) and on the other hand, with disparate comments and all sorts of rumors and advertisements? Our mistake is to accept that information becomes a commodity subject to the laws of market developers.

The fourth error is related to the appearance of the concept of the singularity. The next generation of computers will be much more powerful (deep learning ability, quantum architecture, better algorithms, 3D, etc.). There will probably not be a supremacy of artificial intelligence networks over neural networks. The success of current forms of AI is the achievement of only ONE specific task (to play chess for example), which is effective against a human brain, but what about when AI has to create a more general system ?

The fifth error is related to the control over the Internet exercised today by several large oligarchies. Originally, the anticipated utopia was to create a decentralized network allowing millions of users to freely exchange content and services. But now the Internet is increasingly centralized to allow consortia (BigFour, GAFA, etc.) to make more and more profits on the backs of users.

The problem is the dominance of one search engine, one big social network, one Twitter for micro-blogging…
Tim Berners-Lee, San Francisco, 7th june 2016.