ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE – THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
(A timeline using planetary cycles)
I wanted to write something on Artificial Intelligence because I believe we are on the brink of an AI technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. Furthermore I believe the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before.
The First Industrial Revolution (in the 1700’s) used water and steam power to mechanize production. The Second (in the 1800’s) used electric power to create mass production. The Third (in the 1980’s) used electronics and information technology to automate production and create a digital revolution. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on this digital revolution with much more sophisticated technology bringing robotics, AI, nanotechnology, quantum computing, 3D printing, autonomous vehicles.
The speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent. When compared with previous industrial revolutions, the Fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace and the changes are likely to transform entire systems of production, management, and governance.
Mobile devices with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity and access to knowledge will affect the daily lives of billions of people and this will increase exponentially as technological breakthroughs increase. I think it is interesting to show astrologically how it has developed – I have tried to keep both those with astrological knowledge as well as non-astrologers happy by showing the astrological connections without getting too bogged down in jargon. I hope I have explained it enough but if not please let me know and I will be happy to explain more.
For many of us the rapid progress of Artificial Intelligence feels like an alternative reality – the stuff of magic, Harry Potter and Hogwarts. But truly it seems likely that all the Harry Potter magic is likely to be achievable before too long and we will soon be playing Quidditch in virtual reality.
Raymond Kurzweil, in his book ‘The Singularity is Near, When Humans transcend Biology’, quotes Arthur C. Clarke’s third law – ‘any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic’. Now magic means different things to different belief systems and to different cultures, but we could define magic as ‘a technique for bringing about changes in the physical world through the force of one’s will’.
One definition of artificial intelligence would be intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans and other animals. But, to get to the point of having a machine capable of human intelligence, we first needed computer systems able to perform tasks such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.
So how does a computer mimic the human brain to create an artificial intelligence? In ‘How to Create a Brain’ Kurzweil suggests that our memories function sequentially and in order, and we access in the order remembered e.g. the alphabet. For instance, how many of us could actually recite the alphabet backwards? Kurzweil discusses the fact that, in order to get to Artificial Intelligence, the core task is to ‘understand, model and simulate the human brain in order to reverse-engineer the cerebral neocortex, which accounts for 80% of our brain.
If we were to perfectly model and simulate the human neocortex it would not be able to do very much, just as a newborn infant cannot do much, and that is because the brain works through learning and evolution – from a learning process which has been learned over thousands of lifetimes. So whilst we can simulate patterns, how do we reproduce the learned behaviours of the brain in order to progress Artificial Intelligence? Would a digital brain need a human narrative of its own fictional story so that it can pretend to be a biological human (maybe a bit like Westworld)?
Neo cortical plasticity allows the brain to learn and remember patterns in the sensory world, to refine movements and to recover function after injury. There is considerable plasticity in the brain which enables us to learn, but there is far greater plasticity in a computer. Therefore, a computer could emulate a brain but not vice versa. However, as I said, to get to the point where we are today – on the brink of an AI revolution – we had to first wait for the development of the computer itself.
For key developments through history astrologers look to the relationships between the outer planets – Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, as well as their relationship to Jupiter and Saturn – giving us a wide picture of planetary cycles. The archetypal meaning of these cycles permeates the collective unconscious of a generation and we can see a correlation between these and human development and evolution. So let’s look at this key development of computer knowledge alongside astrological archetypal/generational cycles and see how we got from the early beginnings of the computer to where we are today – the AI revolution.
The principle of the modern computer was proposed by Alan Turing in 1936 when he published his description of the Turing machine – Turing proved that if an algorithm can be written to solve a mathematical problem then a Turing machine can execute that algorithm- this formed the basis of ‘Turing complete’. At this point Saturn was in opposition to Neptune and square to Jupiter. Neptune speaks of being able to reach beyond limits and boundaries, whilst Jupiter expands the potentials and Saturn gives the ability to put structure into the ideas. Interestingly though, there were many similarities in the sky to now. We had just come out of a conflicting series of angles between Pluto and Uranus (Uranus= technology and revolution and Pluto = transformation) just as now. Uranus at this time was at the beginning of Taurus (as it is now), Pluto was in the late degrees of Cancer (exactly opposite to where it stands now) and Neptune also was at a similar degree but in the opposing sign to its current position. So many similarities between now, which appears to correlate with the start of the explosion of AI, and 1936, the beginnings of the technology required to be where we are now.
A hundred years before Turing, in the 1830’s, Charles Babbage had in fact created the field of software programming with his Analytical Engine which would have been the first mechanical device to be in principle Turing complete. 1821 was the beginning of a 170 year Uranus/Neptune cycle (the start of the next cycle in the early 1990’s brought the World Wide Web – so once again we can see a pattern). Uranus is the significator of technology whilst Neptune describes a world with no boundaries, a world that can be transcended. And this was the collective idea that Babbage bought into, albeit probably way ahead of his time because his discoveries were lost until the time of Alan Turing, who is generally regarded as the father of computers, but perhaps we have stopped short and we should actually regard him as the father of artificial intelligence. Turing was born with Uranus (technology) on his Midheaven (career point), not long after the Neptune (without limits)/Uranus (technology) opposition period in the cycle.
The famous Colossus was the world’s first electronic digital programmable computer, but it was not Turing complete. For this we had to wait for 1946 and ENIAC –Electronic Numerical Integration and computer. This was the first electronic programmable computer, similar to Colossus but faster and Turing complete. It was nicknamed the Giant Brain. At this point in time Uranus (technology and technological revolution) was trine Neptune (without boundaries) and Neptune sextile Pluto (transformation).
But it was the Manchester Small Scale Experiment which was the world’s first stored programme computer and the first working machine to contain all the elements essential to a modern electronic computer. Nicknamed ‘Baby’, the first programme ran in 1948 when Saturn (structure) conjoined Pluto (transformation), sextiled Neptune (without boundaries), and widely sextiled Uranus (technological revolution). It was the prototype for the Ferranti Mark I – the world’s first commercially available general purpose computer. Also in 1951 Turing published Computing Machinery and Intelligence, which would then become the Turing test and the concept of microprogramming was coined. We also saw the first artificial neural network and the first robotic spacecraft launched by Russia carrying two dogs. So what was in the sky then? Jupiter (expansion) opposite Neptune (no boundaries) both square to Uranus (technology).
As Uranus conjoined Jupiter, squared Neptune and Neptune sextiled Pluto in 1954 we saw the creation of CERN –the European Organisation for Nuclear Research. This was particularly important for the development of Artificial Intelligence because this would eventually lead us to the World Wide Web. Shortly after this, in 1956, the term Artificial Intelligence was first coined, followed a year later by the commercial usage of the first hard drive and the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1.
In 1969, with Pluto conjunct Uranus, (the Pluto/Uranus cycle speaks of revolutionary transformation – just as in the 1930’s and where we are at now), the film Space Odyssey was released featuring Hal as a sentient computer – almost deja vue. Also at this point an algorithm for multi layer artificial neural networks was developed, contributing significantly to today’s success in deep learning. Plus the first ARPANET link came into use and it was this development which became the technical core of what would be the internet.
In 1980 as Saturn (structure) sextiled Uranus (technology) and squared Neptune (no boundaries), whilst Neptune sextiled Pluto (transformation), the micro computer revolution began. A price war meant that computers become affordable, just prior to the internet revolution. This was also the time of a Jupiter Saturn conjunction in the element of Air. Jupiter/Saturn cycles are indicators of socio economic cycles and, whilst they meet every 20 years or so, there is a wider cycle of 200+ years of their always meeting in the same element (fire, air, earth or water), with a rogue entry into the next element some while before the next full cycle begins. So this happened in 1980 (Air representing the mental, the ether), with the next full cycle beginning in 2020 (more on this in a future blog – but the current cycle which began in the 1850’s, in the earth element, heralded the second Industrial Revolution bringing mass production and capitalism. This rogue entry into the air element triggering the digital revolution gives us a glimpse into what we are likely to see at the full entry in 2020The Jupiter Saturn cycle of the 1700’s was in the fire element, bringing the steam power revolution of the first Industrial Revolution. 1980 was also the beginning of research into Quantum computing – computing using quantum-mechanical phenomena – which is likely to have a big impact on the progress of AI so that when we fully enter the next 200 years of Jupiter and Saturn meeting in air we will likely see the fourth Industrial Revolution in terms of intellect, intelligence and technological advancements the like of which we have not seen before.
And then we hit 1989. We had a Saturn/Uranus/Neptune conjunction with Neptune and Saturn sextile to Pluto (so this is a biggie!) and we had the milestone of the actual birth of the World Wide Web. This was also the beginning of the chatbot, the beginnings of IBM’s Watson (more on this later) and work on algorithms to a multi layer neural network. In 1993 as Neptune and Uranus were still tightly conjunct, CERN released the World Wide Web into the public domain.
Moving forward to 1996/7/98 we still had Neptune/Uranus conjunction in play and we saw the first mobile phone with internet connectivity and Deep Blue became the first chess playing programme to beat a reigning world chess champion. Deep Blue was capable of analysing the logical implications of 200 million board positions per second, whilst the chess master Kasparov reckoned he was capable of one per second. In 1997 the Tamagotchi, the first digital pet, was launched and in 1998 Google was founded. In 1999, whilst we still had a very wide Uranus Neptune conjunction, IBM started BlueGene to develop the supercomputer
Then, as Saturn squared Uranus and went on to trine Neptune, we experienced the upsurge in the founding of the private space developers – Bezos with Blue Origin in 2000, Musk with SpaceX in 2002 and, as Saturn reached a trine to Uranus, Branson founded Virgin Galactic in 2004. Facebook launched at this time too.
As Jupiter headed towards a conjunction with Pluto and squared Saturn in 2007 we saw the IBM Blue Gene/P – 2nd generation of supercomputer from which we have seen the creation of a cell by cell simulation of a portion of the human visual neocortex equivalent to a cat neocortex.
And as we arrive at the Pluto/Uranus square, (radical revolution, particularly in terms of technology – remember I spoke about this at the start of this article with Turing in 1936), which really started to come into play around 2008 and continued until 2018, we unsurprisingly really see the AI revolution massively ramping up. 2008 was the start of what we know as the InternetofThings, a network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other items embedded with technology which enables these things to connect and exchange data. Apparently the number of IoT devices increased 31% year-over-year to 8.4 billion in 2017 and it is estimated that there will be 30 billion devices by 2020. Embedded with technology, these devices can communicate and interact over the Internet, and they can be remotely monitored and controlled.
So what else have we seen since 2008?
• a mobile revolution with computers in the form of smartphones
• the first artificial cellular neocortical column of 10,000 cells was built.
• In 2009 as Saturn opposed Uranus Google built its driverless car
• Wolfram Alpha a computational knowledge engine launched
followed by the first internet link in space a year later.
• Americas first unmanned robotic spacecraft was launched
• Google Brain – deep learning artificial intelligence – mission to improve peoples lives by making machines smarter
• 2010 Instagram launches
• In 2011 SpaceX announces reusable launch system technology
• 3D printing had been around for a while but this was beginning of its usage.
• 2011 The first cognitive radio wireless regional area network standard was developed. CR can sense its environment and, without the intervention of the user, can adapt to the user’s communications needs
• 2011 SIRI, Cortana, GoogleNow, Alexa.
• 2011 Watson – a question answering system capable of answering questions – first developed for the quiz show Jeopardy. Had to be able to answer within a few seconds.
Watson had access to 200 million pages of structured and unstructured content. Watson outperformed the humans. If Watson can understand and respond to questions based on 200 million pages in three seconds
Watson gives us the thought that the advent of Turing level AI is close at hand.
• In 2012 as the Pluto Uranus square became exact, the general public were having conversations in natural spoken language with their handheld computers marking a new era.
• November 2013 – would make Watson API available to software app providers enabling them to build apps and services on the Watson platform.
• 2014 Google acquired DeepMind – co created a neural network that learns how to play games and a neural Turing Machine/neural network that may be able to access an eternal memory that mimics the short memory of the human brain.
• DeepDream – a convolutional neural network to find and enhance patterns in images via algorithmic pareidoia resemblance of imagery to LSD induced hallucinations.
• 2016 – the Pokemon craze as we enter the realms of virtual reality within a real world.
So we can really see how once we came into the Pluto/Uranus territory the technology available was really becoming much more sophisticated and growing at exponential levels.
But AI is no longer the territory of the American giants. Alibaba, a Chinese on line platform dealing mainly as an e-commerce marketplace, created their DAMO academy to work on emerging technologies, but AI appears to be their biggest focus. Alibaba has also released a cloud machine-learning platform and their technology supports several other companies’ deep-learning frameworks, e.g. Google and Amazon. Alibaba’s AI researchers are also working on generative adversarial networks or GANS, where two neural networks are pitted against one another. As one tries to generate data that seems as if it comes from a real data set, the other tries to distinguish real examples from fake ones. This allows computers to learn more efficiently from unlabelled data. Alibaba has an advantage in that the Chinese government is committed to AI, particularly with regard to the development of Smart city technology. One of Alibaba’s cloud AI tools is called City Brain, which is designed for tasks such as traffic management. So as China becomes more proficient in AI they will be an important part of this process.
Quantum computing is still in its infancy but many national governments and military agencies are funding research. Large scale quantum computers would theoretically be able to solve certain problems much more quickly than classical computers. Google IBM and some startups are competing to create the next generation of supercomputers using quantum technology and this they believe could help us to solve problems that our existing computers can’t even scratch the surface of, because they operate on completely diffierent principles to existing computers.
Salesforce has developed its myEinstein AI technology. AI is embedded within inanimate objects like cars, refrigerators, and clothing and these generate additional data by themselves millions of times a day. I was confidently told that these systems collect so much data that they know what I will buy before I even know I want it!!!!! It’s very clear how useful and how defining in terms of profits and production this information can be for companies. Businesses are going to be forced to buy into this technology or else they will be left lagging.
In 2020 we have a Jupiter Saturn Pluto line up in Capricorn which suggests to me a radical breakdown of systems and corporations as we know them. This occurs just before we begin a new Great Cycle of Jupiter/Saturn in the Air element beginning in 0 degrees of Aquarius. For me it is very significant that this begins at 0 degrees and Aquarius is such a sign of technology, unpredictability and radical difference. Then in 2025 Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto all change signs signifying large scale change. However, more on all of this at a later date.
The US Air Force is investing in hypersonics to catch up in the arms race with Russia and China, but is there already a hypersonic spy plane? Alongside hypersonics comes the need to be in control of space and, therefore, space weaponisation. Therefore, it is no surprise that the U.S. might use any excuse to put sanctions on China and Russia in order to slow down their technological development in this respect. A new phase in the element of Air would also be very symbolic in terms of space colonization, space technology and even space wars.
Hand in hand with hypersonics also comes nuclear fusion, which would likely mean the ability to get to Mars for instance in just three months. To reach nuclear fusion is to reach the temperature of the Sun meaning the need for oil becomes redundant and by using the power of the Sun the possibilities and distance ranges would be revolutionised. The success of the first two Industrial Revolutions in part depended upon the emergence and availability of fuels at a reasonable price. But if we don’t need oil..……now where will that take us? Artificial intelligence is all around us – we no longer have our hand on the controls. Almost every product we touch is designed in a collaboration between human and artificial intelligence and then built in automated factories. If all the AI systems decided to go on strike tomorrow our civilisation would be crippled. Fortunately our intelligent machines are not yet intelligent enough to organise such a conspiracy.
The robot or avatar of the future may be convincing in its emotional reactions and appear conscious. I think we can already signs of this. Will we merge with intelligent technology – indeed have parts of society already become a hybrid race, glued to smart phones. One recent study has demonstrated that British adults are likely to spend 24 hours a week online. Will intelligent nanobots in our bloodstream keep our biological bodies healthy in the future? Already artificial intelligence surrounds us – self driving cars, drones, virtual assistants. Driven by exponential increases in computing power this revolution has the potential to raise income levels and improve quality of life. However, it could also bring greater inequality and disrupt labour markets as jobs become redundant. The skill levels of the future will be unrecognizably different. The fourth Industrial Revolution will have an immense impact on how we will communicate (Air) for better or for worse. In 2016 Microsoft launched the Tay chatbot – an artificial intelligence application – an entertainment app for 18-24 year olds. However, it was shut down 24 hours after launch because the humans who engaged with Tay taught her to be racist and misogynic with Tay tweeting wildly inappropriate words and images. So we will have to learn how to manage the conflicts caused by this great digital revolution.
It is likely that we will not be able to increase the plasticity of the brain significantly without doing so non-biologically. As we learn to re create the neo cortex – the last bastian – then we will be able to make truly intelligent machines. And how long will it take for us to spread our intelligence in its non biological form throughout the universe? It seems that infusing the universe with our human intelligence in its non biological form is our destiny for good or for ill. Will we turn humanity into robots or will we take the opportunity to raise humanity to a different level of consciousness using the new technologies at hand for the greater good?