A Brave New World

I love all types of science fiction. From fantasy sci-fi to hardcore sci-fi, from Dr. Who to Children of Men, the best science fiction tells us something about who we are and where we hope to be. When I first read about prominent futurist Ray Kurzweil, he seemed like a quack straight from a cheesy sci-fi movie. Among other things, Kurzweil has predicted the integration of nanotechnology with humans, leading to our eventual immortality.

This seems crazy until you consider the number of events Kurzweil has correctly predicted, and that Google has hired him as their new Director of Engineering. In this role, he is working on a new search engine that uses artificial intelligence to answer questions before you ask them. According to Google Chairman Eric Schmidt:

This friend of yours, this cybernetic friend, that knows that you have certain questions about certain health issues or business strategies. And, it can then be canvassing all the new information that comes out in the world every minute and then bring things to your attention without you asking about them.”

Depending on your bent, this is either very exciting or very frightening. But the line “bring things to your attention without you asking . . . ” did make me think of the many ways we already rely on this type of technology.

The Zarca platform has characteristics of a “cybernetic friend” as it is smart and intuitive enough to prevent you from making survey design mistakes, protecting the integrity of your data.

The platform intelligently prevents ballot-box stuffing, uses data validation to prevent GIGO and utilizes true anonymity to encourage participants to provide better feedback.

While not the cybernetic best friend of Kurzweil’s musings, the platform is more like a parent who won’t let you enter text into a numerical allocation box, or stops some troll from skewing your results by taking the survey 50 times.

I’m not sure what the world will look like 20 years from now, but with quantum computers, self-driving cars, virtual reality glasses and survey platforms that “care” about the integrity of your results, we’re headed toward a brave new world indeed.

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