The ultimate endgame in the development of artificially intelligent (AI) systems is the creation of intelligent solutions that can input data from a variety of sources, process it (understand it), and perform multiple output operations. Imagine you are sitting on your couch at home next to a device with Siri activated. However instead of requesting simple tasks like adding almond milk to your shopping list, you could have a substantive conversation about the meaning of life, experiencing a dialogue with the Siri application that was indistinguishable from the kind you would have with a close friend or loved one.

Using the world’s knowledge, a generally intelligent Siri could reach to the depths of the internet in a heartbeat, assess all available information about cosmology, metaphysics, psychology, freewill, and spirituality. This experience would be the dawn of an innovation age where you would no-longer need to spend $400 an hour visiting your psychiatrist. Diagnostics could be performed by an interactive intelligence like Siri from the comfort of your living room, and a fraction of the price. There would also be no requirement to travel across town, battle to find parking, and sit in a waiting room until your therapist is ready.

The benefits of this technology would not only remove the need to commute – it would reduce the time limit on therapy sessions and make valuable mental health services available to anyone with an internet connection. Suddenly the challenge of sourcing mental health professionals for lower income communities would be a problem of the past. Families in the poorest neighborhoods would have access to world-class therapy, provided an internet connection. Of course, this application of future generally intelligent systems does not begin to represent the tip of the iceberg.

A more adept analogy would be to compare the intelligence of an ant to a human being. Ants are much better than humans at lifting things. Leafcutter ants can lift to 50 times their bodyweight and carry it back to the colony. They are simply much better at performing this narrow function than we are. For example, I weigh 240 pounds. If I was to perform this narrow function at the standard of a Leafcutter ant, I would be able to lift 12,000 pounds above my head and casually walk it several miles home. For my friends outside of the United States, the conversion is around five and a half tons. The end game of AI would be to flip positions, so to speak. In…

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