The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence by the originator of the Gaia theory. I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the future. His basic idea is we will shortly be creating computers that will begin evolving into grander general-purpose beings. The game of chess was among the first human mind twisters to fall to computers. But, we rationalized that as being no more than doing fixed activities more quickly than humans. Then on the TV show Jeopardy a specialized computer beat people in a seemingly complex knowledge game. More recently the game of Go, with vastly more moves than chess, fell from human dominance to computers. But these were kind of like multiple-choice games where at any given moment there was a simple and correct answer, given enough computing power.
Now computers are taking vast quantities of information and squeezing information out of the data using methods that are not understood by any human. But the really challenging thing for humanity is that these computers are self-programming themselves to solve problems that haven’t even occurred to humans, but when the humans do see them, they realized they missed an opportunity for discovery.
From the perspective of The Probaway Person of the Year, where we look back from 500 years in the future for memorable events, there will probably be an event so astonishing that people will say, “The BIG EVENT happened in 202(x)”. An event like Columbus sailing the ocean blue in 1492, or Neil Armstrong setting foot on the Moon in 1969. Those are the kinds of events that are unforgettable. Of the twelve choices so far, the person who is likely to be the most memorable is Xi Jinping. He will probably be credited with founding a new Chinese Dynasty. It will rule the world and will be the greatest economic power ever created by humans.
Except … for whoever is first to create the first self-evolving general-purpose multi-location physically functioning entity. That is a device that can create its own action at any place in our world.
Lovelock doesn’t say these things, but I do and notice that the time frame is within the life expectancy of young adults.