Ten ways AI will shape the next five years

Artificial intelligence is set to shape the future. (University of Agder illustration created with AI via ChatGPT)

Over the past year, artificial intelligence (AI) has made a significant impact on the world. While most of us have noticed the advances in text and image tools like ChatGPT and Midjourney, a deeper revolution is happening beneath the surface.

In a new episode of the podcast ‘Game Over?’, Professor Morten Goodwin and Associate Professor Per-Arne Andersen from University of Agder in Norway made 10 predictions on how AI may change the world by 2029.

1. A new arms race

Over the next five years we will most likely see powerful countries such as China, the US, and India developing increasingly advanced weapons driven by AI.

“One country may invent highly intelligent drone swarms capable of inflicting significant destruction. In response, other countries will work harder to create even more devastating weapons,” Goodwin said.

Andersen points out that the arms race is already under way, and that AI plays a role on today’s battlefields.

“Currently, generals make decisions in war, but I believe that artificial intelligence will be able to make far better strategic decisions than humans,” Andersen said.

Which country do the researchers believe will gain the upper hand in the military AI race? The answer is China.

2. Entertainment created by AI

In five years, AI will not only have the capability to create movies, music, books, and video games – it will become the new standard, predicts Goodwin.

“Developments in this area are moving rapidly, and the necessary tools already exist,” he said.

The researcher believes that labour unions, such as those in Hollywood, will have limited power to resist this change.

“Labour unions can make demands, but if the technology proves itself, it won’t matter. Back in the 1980s, labour unions representing typographers were strong, but it became inconsequential with the arrival of computers and printers.”

3. Changing education

Lectures and exams will appear outdated. There are better ways to learn, and AI will shape the way we acquire knowledge.

“I don’t think exams will exist in five years. Why should we test something that artificial intelligence does better than us? Although colleges and universities will still exist, they won’t be like how we think of them today,” Goodwin said.

However, the researchers believe that not all aspects of the education system will be discarded.

“Primary and secondary schools are fundamental for learning to be human, fostering social skills, and acquiring foundational knowledge. They will endure, however new technologies well be incorporated to assist them,” Goodwin added.

4. AI decision making

We are already asking ChatGPT for advice on writing wedding speeches and meeting summaries. So why shouldn’t politicians seek the guidance of AI in important decision-making?

“Instead of convening committees and grappling with conflicting expert opinions, artificial intelligence can help politicians make decisions about everything from bike paths to new hospitals,” Goodwin said.

5. Revolutionising work life

In five years, there will be fewer tasks that require human intervention, according to the researchers. However, the jobs that humans engage in will become more meaningful.

“I think work is misunderstood. On one hand, we need money for food, rent, and other basic necessities. On the other hand, we need to find meaning in life. We often intertwine these aspects without them necessarily being connected,” Goodwin observed.

One key concern will be who benefits when human workers are replaced by AI – will it benefit the workers themselves or the owners of capital? We don’t know yet. But it is certain that there will be frustrations and protests.

“People who lose their jobs may feel as if they are losing their identity and are no longer relevant in society. I anticipate that there will be many protests against the rise of artificial intelligence,” Andersen said.

6. Coding – a thing of the past

Software development is among the jobs that will disappear within a few years, according to the researchers.

“Coding will become a thing of the past. Instead, we will instruct computer programs to write code on our behalf,” Goodwin said.

But humans are not completely irrelevant. It remains crucial that someone knows how to make the computer programs to create the desired outcomes.

“Purchasing competence will become more important. If I’m going to request a new website or an app from an algorithm, I need to understand what it is I want,” Goodwin pointed out.

7. Fixing our bodies?

Nanorobots are tiny robots already being used in health research. The researchers believe that these robots will incorporate more AI capabilities by 2029, enabling them to heal damaged muscles and tissues or target tumours in the body.

“I also believe that anti-aging with artificial intelligence will gain prominence in the next five years. This means that artificial intelligence will not only repairs damages but might also uncover why we age,” said Goodwin.

Instead of relying on Botox, it is possible that a small army of robots could be injected to eliminate wrinkles, for example.

8. The space race

Interplanetary exploration will require thousands of years, making it impractical to assign such endeavours to humans. AI, however, is well suited for such journeys.

“Whether the robots employed are physical or virtual may not be crucial, but I think they will be deployed by 2029, with Elon Musk at the forefront,” Goodwin said.

9. Breakthrough for general artificial intelligence

General artificial intelligence is a technology that is not just proficient in one area, such as ChatGPT’s expertise in text or Midjourney’s proficiency in images. Instead, it has the ability to master multiple tasks just as well as humans do.

“I don’t think we will achieve this by 2029, but perhaps we will have some kind of Frankenstein AI that combines many different forms of artificial intelligence,” Andersen noted.

Goodwin said he too does not believe we will achieve true general artificial intelligence within the next five years. Nevertheless, he thinks an unexpected breakthrough will bring us closer to that goal.

10. AI assistants

Move over Siri and ‘Hey Google’. Get ready for the arrival of digital assistants that anticipate what you want before even you do.

“These assistants can be in our mobile phones, as we are accustomed to, or they can be physical robots. For example, smart homes could be equipped with robot assistants who have a meal ready for you the moment you feel hungry,” Andersen said.

Jim Cornall is editor of Deeptech Digest and publisher at Ayr Coastal Media. He is an award-winning writer, editor, photographer, broadcaster, designer and author. Contact Jim here.