- Richard Lum
Can You Envision the Machines?
A few years back I wrote a short piece whose relevance I think is returning to the fore, especially given the recent spike in excitement for machines following the debut of ChatGPT. It was the concept of a “three worlds” view.
Most of us (well, at least those of us over, like, 35 years old…) grew up with the notion of the natural world and the man-made world. For most of us it is natural (no pun intended) to imagine spaces that are unspoiled nature, spaces where the built world of human cities and infrastructure dominate, and then those spaces where the two overlap. Natural vs. man-made. That was the division.
Today, with long-run trends in digitization, automation, and autonomization reshaping almost every aspect of daily life, and given the objective of many innovators to create ever-more-advanced versions of independent machines, it becomes important to imagine the world around us in a different way. Enter the three worlds view, which asks you to imagine three distinct, overlapping, and interrelated worlds: the natural, the man-made, and the machine. Increasingly, it will be important to understand that the machine world, though born of the man-made world, will behave more and more like a version of the natural world, complete with complexity, ecosystems, and unpredictable (and uncontrollable) outcomes.
Can you imagine the machine world? Think about those spaces that are purely machine. Think about the overlaps between these three worlds. Finally, think of all the different future scenarios that start to flow from this simple model.
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