Search for Relevance

One tiny part of one Google Datacenter

One tiny part of one Google Datacenter

Anyone who has read about modern cosmology has encountered Inflation Theory, which postulates that the very early universe expanded extremely rapidly — exponentially.  The expansion of cyberspace during the past two decades is similar in some ways.  The range and extent of cyberspace is growing exponentially and that rate of growth looks like it will continue increasing indefinitely, with no apparent limits.

The number of human explorers and developers of cyberspace initially seemed to impose some limits to its expansion, but that is changing quickly.  The currently emerging “internet of things,” connecting appliances and devices everywhere, raises the prospect that cyberspace will soon be created by machines designed to make other machines–and connect those new machines to the internet.

Some of these new machines are intended to interact intelligently with humans, so they are built to be intelligent.  A basic requirement of intelligence, whether artificial or natural, is the ability to distinguish meaningful from meaningless data.  Intelligent agents must rapidly search potential information for relevance.

This requirement for quickly discriminating between relevant and irrelevant data is essential to the architecture of cyberspace.  It accounts for Google–both as a ubiquitous information utility and as a financial juggernaut. The increasing difficulty of finding relevant and useful knowledge within the explosion of new data continually coming online has been commonly discussed for years, if not decades, and I don’t need to repeat the observation here. The aspect of this cyber-phenomenon that I want to point to is that our reliance on AI for navigating the inflating realm of cyberspace is growing and the combination of technological, social, and economic forces driving it makes its continued expansion virtually inevitable.

As AI (think of Siri) becomes an ever-more ubiquitous feature of our need to navigate cyberspace, it also becomes more necessary and more financially lucrative to both commercial endeavors and the research efforts that support them.  This need for AI, driven by the endless search for relevance, is quickly becoming one of the fundamental drivers of the looming intelligence explosion.

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