The incredible inventions of intuitive AI | Maurice Conti | Summary and Q&A

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February 28, 2017
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TED
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The incredible inventions of intuitive AI | Maurice Conti

TL;DR

This content explores the concept of the Augmented Age and how technology will amplify our cognitive, physical, and perceptual abilities in creating, making, and connecting.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What is the Augmented Age and how will it impact the way we work?

The Augmented Age is the next era in human history where our natural capabilities will be augmented by computational systems, robotic systems, and a digital nervous system. This will significantly change the way we work, and more changes will occur in the next 20 years than in the past 2,000.

Q: How are tools evolving from being passive to generative?

Generative design tools are using computers and algorithms to synthesize geometry and come up with new designs on their own. These tools explore the entire solution space and generate designs based on the goals and constraints provided by the user. This is a significant shift from previous tools that were completely passive and could only perform tasks based on explicit instructions.

Q: How are cognitive augmentation and artificial intelligence (AI) advancing?

Cognitive augmentation is the process of using technology to enhance our cognitive abilities. AI is a key component of this advancement as it enables computers to develop deep learning and intuition. AI systems, like DeepMind's AlphaGo, have achieved remarkable feats in strategic games and are becoming increasingly capable of providing insights, suggestions, and problem-solving assistance in various domains.

Q: How can humans and robots collaborate to augment each other's abilities?

By leveraging human-robot collaboration, humans and robots can work together to achieve tasks more efficiently and effectively. Robots can perform precise and repetitive tasks, while humans contribute their awareness, perception, and decision-making skills. This collaborative approach, as demonstrated in projects like Bishop assisting in construction tasks, showcases the potential for humans and robots to augment each other's strengths and capabilities.

Q: How can a digital nervous system improve our connection to the things we create?

A digital nervous system can provide us with information and feedback from the things we design, make, and use. By incorporating sensors and collecting data from these objects, we can gain valuable insights into their performance, user experience, and real-world impact. This information can then inform future design iterations, enabling us to create products and experiences that better align with user needs and preferences.

Summary

In this talk, the speaker discusses the concept of the Augmented Age, where human capabilities are enhanced by computational systems, robotic systems, and a digital nervous system. He explains how cognitive augmentation can already be seen in tools like smartphones, but emphasizes that the future will involve more generative design tools that can come up with solutions on their own. The speaker also explores the idea of human-robot collaboration and how robotic systems can augment human abilities in the physical world, showcasing examples such as a robot assisting in construction tasks and a project involving humans, robots, and AI working together to solve a complex design problem. Lastly, he discusses the importance of developing a digital nervous system that connects us to the things we create, so that we can gather information and create products that people truly want. The speaker envisions a future where technology, nature, and humanity collaborate to shape a world with more variety, connectedness, dynamism, adaptability, and beauty.

Questions & Answers

Q: In what ways will humans' natural abilities be augmented in the Augmented Age?

In the Augmented Age, humans' natural abilities will be enhanced by computational systems, robotic systems, and a digital nervous system. These technologies will help humans think, make, and connect to the world in ways that go beyond their natural senses.

Q: How have tools and technology evolved over time?

Tools and technology have evolved throughout history. Initially, tools were passive and could only do what humans instructed them to do. However, with the advent of generative design tools, computers can now come up with their own solutions to problems, pushing beyond the limitations of human imagination. It is an exciting time as tools are transitioning from being passive to being generative.

Q: Can you provide an example of generative design in action?

Aerial drone chassis can serve as an example. By simply inputting a few parameters and constraints like the number of propellers, desired lightweightness, and aerodynamic efficiency, the generative design tool can explore the entire solution space and come up with millions of design possibilities that meet the specified criteria. Through this process, the computer can generate designs that exceed human imagination and creativity, showcasing the power of generative design tools.

Q: How is human-robot collaboration being explored and leveraged in various industries?

Human-robot collaboration is being explored as a means to augment human abilities in various industries. For example, in construction, robots can assist humans in performing repetitive tasks that require precision, while humans provide awareness, perception, and decision-making capabilities. The combination of human and robot strengths allows for greater efficiency and productivity. There are also projects that involve humans, robots, and artificial intelligence working together, such as a complex design problem where humans manipulate materials, robots perform tasks difficult for humans, and an AI oversees and coordinates the entire process. These collaborations enable the creation of things that would not be possible without the involvement of both humans and robots.

Q: How is the concept of "augmentation" being applied in the field of architecture and design?

The concept of "augmentation" is being applied in architecture and design through generative design and robotic systems. For instance, there are ongoing projects like the autonomously manufactured bridge, where an AI, along with a designer, is using generative design to create the bridge, and robots will 3D print it without human intervention. This demonstrates how technology can augment the design and fabrication processes, enabling the creation of structures that may have been difficult or impossible to achieve through traditional methods.

Q: How can a digital nervous system enhance the way we interact with the things we create?

A digital nervous system can enhance the way we interact with the things we create by providing us with real-time information and feedback from those objects. Currently, the things we create often lack the ability to communicate with us, limiting our understanding of how they are being used or experienced. By having a nervous system connecting us to the things we design, make, and use, we can gather data about their performance, usage patterns, and user preferences. This information can then be utilized to improve the design and create products that better align with user needs and desires.

Q: What potential benefits can arise from having a digital nervous system?

Having a digital nervous system can bring several benefits. Firstly, it allows designers and creators to gather valuable data about the performance and usage of their products in real-world scenarios. This information can then inform iterative design improvements and lead to the creation of better, more user-focused products. Additionally, a digital nervous system enables a shift from convincing people to buy products to making products that people actually want in the first place. By having a deeper understanding of how users interact with their creations, designers can tailor their products to meet user needs, resulting in higher satisfaction and engagement.

Q: How can the Augmented Age help us address complex global challenges, such as climate change?

The speaker suggests that technology can amplify our cognitive abilities to help us address complex global challenges like climate change. By leveraging the computational power and generative capabilities of computers, augmented humans can collaborate with AI systems to find innovative solutions to problems we have never faced before. Through this collaborative problem-solving approach, humans can unlock new insights, design strategies, and interventions that have the potential to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The Augmented Age offers an opportunity to harness technology for the betterment of humanity and our planet.

Q: How does the speaker envision the future in the Augmented Age?

The speaker envisions a world in the Augmented Age where we move from fabrication to farming, construction to growth, isolation to connectedness, and extraction to aggregation. He believes that our augmented capabilities, both cognitive and physical, will lead to a world with more variety, connectedness, dynamism, complexity, adaptability, and beauty. The future will be shaped by a partnership between technology, nature, and humanity, resulting in a future full of wonder and possibilities.

Q: What is the main message the speaker wants to convey about the Augmented Age?

The main message the speaker wants to convey is that we are entering a new era, the Augmented Age, where technology amplifies and enhances our cognitive, physical, and perceptual abilities. Through generative design, human-robot collaboration, and the development of a digital nervous system, we can push the boundaries of what is possible and create a future that is more connected, diverse, adaptable, and beautiful. The speaker emphasizes the importance of embracing this partnership between technology, nature, and humanity to shape a future worth looking forward to.

Takeaways

The Augmented Age presents a future where technology augments and enhances human capabilities in various ways. It allows for the development of generative design tools that can push beyond human imagination and come up with solutions independently. Human-robot collaboration enables humans and robots to work together, leveraging their respective strengths to solve complex problems and create things that go beyond what either could achieve alone. Additionally, a digital nervous system holds the potential to provide real-time information and feedback from the things we create, allowing for iterative improvements and better user-centric design. This future emphasizes the importance of partnership between technology, nature, and humanity, leading to a world full of possibilities, variety, connectedness, dynamism, complexity, adaptability, and beauty.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The speaker believes that the way we work is going through a significant transformation in the Augmented Age, where our natural abilities will be enhanced by computational and robotic systems.

  • Computers are becoming more generative, capable of coming up with their own solutions to design problems, and are even developing intuition and creativity.

  • Human-robot collaboration is allowing us to enhance our physical abilities and capabilities in tasks like construction and design, leading to the creation of new and innovative products and structures.

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