The Race Between Intelligence Augmentation and Artificial Intelligence (IA vs AI)

When we talk about technological employment, one of the recurring issues that comes up is education. After all there is still plenty of demand for labor in various highly skilled sectors of the economy. In many cases demand greatly exceeds the pool of people that qualify. So it would seem one way to alleviate the problem of technological employment would be to better educate people.

I often hear statements like “no unemployed 40 year old truck driver will be able to reinvent himself.” I think there is truth in this statement. However, I also think it might be overly pessimistic.

One of the things technology does is make people smarter. It is already doing so. The ability to search the web makes people smarter. The ability to watch a tutorial on youtube makes people smarter. We do not know how to directly upgrade people’s brains yet, but we are already achieving early forms of intelligence augmentation through the exponentially advancing information technology we call education. In the near future we may see wide-scale adoption of MOOCs. Eventually we may see intelligence enhancing biotechnology.

In other words, we can’t assume rapid technological progress in the domain of artificial intelligence and not also expect it in the field of intelligence augmentation. That said, timing is very important. A big question is which field will advance faster? And how big is the lag time between them? I would admit that right now it appears as if AI is leaping ahead of IA and there is reason to be concerned. But this is not necessarily written in stone.

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