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Welcome to the Alpbach Media Academy.
We provide in-depth coverage of the European Forum Alpbach 2017.

AI and the democratisation of knowledge

The way we use artificial intelligence will change our lives in the near future.

“Within five years, every decision that matters, whether it’s buying a house or selecting the best school, every decision that matters will be supported by a piece of artificial intelligence, to get your facts straight. And you’re going to find it totally normal. It’s going to lead to a democratization of knowledge in the same way as the printing press in the mid 1500s led to a Renaissance of knowledge. AI is going to do the same thing,” said Marc Teerlink, Chief Business Strategist for the IBM Watson Group.

“What’s going to really drive computing is artificial intelligence and machine learning and the use of language and context,” Mr Teerlink explained.

He added: “We’re going go from blindly accepting the answer that we get, we’re going to go into a new era where we can augment these knowledge parts, and offload their time so they can focus more on the skill set that they have.”

This means surgeons can focus more on the surgery rather than diagnosing a patient for instance. In the 80s, an architect could focus more on design than calculations with the help of a calculator. AI is the next step.

Moore’s law, the theory that computing power will double every two years, has proved to be fairly accurate since its invention in the early 70s. “There will be something like Moore’s law for another 15-20 years, then we will reach the boundaries of the physics we know today,” Mr Teerlink said.

The rise of quantum computing is the use of atoms to process information in computers, rather than ones and zeros. Mr Teerlink explained: “With quantum computing basically what you do is you use a different kind of technology to make the processor. It’s a little bit like when you come here to Alpbach, slowly six lanes become one. If you have multiple processors at the same time, you’ll restart Moore’s law, and we expect you will get the next wave.”

The problem for the future of computing isn’t in processing power, it lies in the fact that most of us need to recharge our smartphones multiple times a day. “We shouldn’t be concerned about computer processing power, we should be much more concerned about physical mobile power. Because at the moment, technology is developing more rapidly than battery technology is, and I mean battery technology that is affordable for you and me as consumers,” Mr Teerlink said.

He added: “Digital devices, whether they are voice, text or visual, will definitely change the way we use computers and therefore use more power.”

By Gustaf Kilander, Alpbach Media Academy

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