India Future Society

Why Artificial Intelligence will not replace a Human Futurist

by Harish Shah

A recent conversation on a Linkedin group drew attention to automated robots writing the news soon after events occur, for media agencies. This lead a veteran Futurist to ponder the prospect of automated technology eventually using the same system and algorithms to create automated AI enabled robots or systems to forecast or plan scenarios, rendering redundant human Futurists.

The concept is self-defeating. Primarily, Artificial Intelligence is the set rules in programme coding, which instructs and enables a software or hardware, to identify and sequence or pattern through detection, and then to respond according to a pre-programmed prescribed action.

Formal long-running cognitive research in fact triggered long ago by the proposition that technology can become conscious, that concluded recently, has determined that cognitive consciousness requires a physical organic biological body – in other words in fauna, a collection of natural brain cells collectively forming a brain, to operate a physical body that constitute a living creature.
Where do we place AI then? AI is basically the automated function of software or hardware, that adheres to prescribed actions its is enabled to perform, in response to linear data made available to it, whether manually or automatically.
So technology in Future Studies, is only as effective, as the numerical linear data, and its value, to creating scenarios or mapping developments, which thus far we’ve seen many corporations and governments alike try to rely upon, only mostly in vein. The human Futurist has always outperformed and there are strong logical reasons, why this will be a permanent scenario.
The human brain thinks in non-linear fashion, and is therefore able to deduce non-linear time and life. You can programme technology, to interpret and deduce in the non-linear fashion, but it will only remain limited in ability to its programming and input and the time of programming. There is no natural or dynamic competency, that you can create in an artificial system, and this is where we need to heed Einstein’s great advise, on respecting and submitting to limitations. Technology was always with limits, and those limits are permanent.
An artificial system, whether robot, computer or program can absorb and retain a far greater quantity of data or information than any individual human being. Technology can also make much faster calculations, deductions and conclusions, for its faster processing abilities we can create. You cannot programme consciousness or intuition or spontaneity into any technology, and that again is a limitation we must submit to.
Perhaps robots can be programmed to conduct surgery independently of any human surgeon or operator being present, or even be programmed to pilot commercial airlines or spacecraft. However, to programme a system to replace a human CEO, Lawyer, Futurist or Politician, is neither logically possible nor sensible.
Automated Forecasting is not new. Till now, there have been software and computers. In time ahead, you have the prospect of robots. In time, Automation will increase, and Artificial Intelligence will be more widely applied. However, with limitations to functions that technology may be able to serve, we can be certain, that certain possibilities do not exist, and when we foresee a future, it is imperative that we take into account those limitations, to rule out possibilities that are not there. This, to create Future Studies, of real value.
Fantasy and imagination inspire, but only do as much good, as the effort expended, to balance them, with scientific evidence, logic and feasibility. Ironically, it must be conceded, that this particular rule, would be far better adhered to, by a machine or a programme, which is AI enabled, than by a human being, in general. However, that an AI enabled machine or programme can likely follow this particular rule better generally, does not to any measure or by any means, overrule the fact that a feasibility is absent, to ever programme or evolve any artificial technology, software or hardware, to think consciously and dynamically, as would a human being, as is required, for any valuable, adequate and effective Future Study.
Critics will attempt to dismiss this commentary as a defensive attempt, at trying to preserve a role and function, but however, a valid counter criticism, is that the onus in upon the critics to first surface or create a system that is Artificially Intelligent, that does operate consciously and thereupon is able to engage in effective Future Studies, before the occurrence of which, no criticism against such a commentary is actually logically and objectively valid.
While to some this may sound to be less than humble, in that a human mind is being assumed here as necessarily more capable than any Artificially Intelligent technology where Future Studies at least is concerned, and that it must be conceded that it probably does at least sound as such, I would propose we also embrace humility enough, to appreciate the limitations to what we can possibly create. We certainly are not being humble where we fail to accept, that though we’ll constantly only get better, some things within the realms of science, technology, life and existence, will only remain beyond us. And the critics to this last statement bear the onus, of proving superior scientific thought competence than the intellectual that left our world with such a thought train in legacy, after having very much evolved this world with his wisdom while he lived, by the name of Albert Einstein.

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