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What Could a Centibillionaire Do Today?
AI and the Ultra-Rich: A Glimpse into the Future, Today
In 2003, visionary science fiction author William Gibson succinctly noted, "The future is already here – it's just not evenly distributed." Now, two decades into the 21st century, this statement resonates more than ever, particularly when examining the current landscape of Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI technologies have advanced at lightning speed, transforming various sectors and morphing elements of sci-fi into our everyday reality.
Consider the wonders we casually enjoy today. We command digital assistants to play our favorite songs, use GPS technology to traverse the globe, and summon meals to our doorstep with a few taps on a screen.
These are no longer futuristic predictions - they're our reality, our 'normal'. But imagine, if you will, the other end of the spectrum:
What if today’s ultra-wealthy— the Musks, Bezoses, and Zuckerbergs of the world— decided to demonstrate the true extent of what AI can do today? What if money were no object? Let’s think about some ambitious, albeit costly, applications of current AI technologies that are already within our grasp.
Personal Protection Army
In the realm of personal security, AI-driven technology offers a tantalizing glimpse into the future. Imagine a scenario where, instead of a cadre of bodyguards, a personal drone swarm follows you around, providing an unprecedented level of safety and protection.
These drones wouldn't just passively monitor their surroundings - they'd actively identify and neutralize potential threats. They could serve as eyes in the sky, conduct advanced recon, provide real-time alerts, and even, if necessary, intervene directly to protect their charge.
Currently, the application of drone technology is mostly limited to kamikaze-like tactics, where drones sacrifice themselves to nullify threats. But the potential for drones, especially swarm intelligence, is immense.
That's the power of swarm intelligence. And with advancements in AI, these drone swarms could evolve into something far more capable and subtle than simple kamikaze protectors. They could become a sophisticated security system, a guardian swarm that can outmaneuver, outthink, and outperform any human security detail.
I remember being blown away by seeing an app that could translate text into another language in real time, as though you were reading the text in your native language. I looked at a page in Japanese, and English appeared. This might have been about six or seven years ago.
Today, a wide variety of gadgets augment our capabilities - from smartphones providing instant access to global information to wearable fitness trackers monitoring our health in real-time. I might know a dozen people who constantly wear fitness tracking watches of some type or other.
But, for the ultra-rich, there's the potential for something more integrated and personal: cyborgification, or the seamless fusion of humans and machines.
The idea of an always-on augmented reality interface isn’t new. Remember Google Glass?
Now, imagine this technology in the form of a contact lens. Imagine having real-time information about people you meet, objects you see, or places you visit, all overlaid onto your natural field of vision. Faces are recognized, names and relevant details pop up, directions materialize on the street in front of you - all without needing to pull out a smartphone or other device.
Along with visual augmentation, imagine an AI-powered earpiece offering real-time language translation, like a personal Babel Fish from "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". You could have a conversation with anyone, anywhere in the world, without language barriers.
You could also have a virtual personal assistant using GPT-4 technology and having a real-time conversation with you, by voice. You could ask your assistant questions about everything.
Instead of a simple fitness tracker, imagine an implant or wearable that continuously monitors your vitals and blood chemistry. It alerts you of any potential health issues, offers dietary advice based on real-time nutrient analysis, and even communicates directly with your medical professionals.
This might sound like science fiction, but the building blocks for these advancements are already here.
In this world, the ultra-rich stand on the frontier of technological possibility, their wealth allowing them to pioneer advancements that are yet to be seen in the mainstream. As they explore these cutting-edge technologies, from personal drone swarms to human-machine fusion, they push the boundary of the future ever forward. Yet, the question remains: will these innovations eventually become accessible to more people, as Gibson suggested, or will they deepen the divide between the ultra-rich and the rest? We can't be certain. What we can be certain of is the immense potential of AI and the transformative changes it may bring, distributed or not. After all, the future is already here – it's just not evenly distributed.