Futurist Tim O’Reilly Sees a Human-Computer Symbiosis Bigger Than AI


Futurist Tim O’Reilly Sees a Human-Computer Symbiosis Bigger Than AI

Tim O’Reilly is a kind of bard of technology, a lyrical poet of computing’s past, present and future. Ask him a question and whole paragraphs of reflection bubble up.

Is the present state of artificial intelligence, for example, bigger than the open-source software revolution, an epochal development chronicled in detail from the front lines by O’Reilly’s publishing company?

“That’s an interesting question,” says O’Reilly, before re-framing it, declaring that there is something bigger than AI itself.

“I think in the long run, this transformation to machine autonomy, and to, basically, machines that are in a new kind of hybrid existence with humans — they talk about AI as separate from us, but all interesting machines are hybrids of human and machine — we have this machine that has been amplifying things we can do, and I think of the human-machine symbiosis as a trend that is probably bigger than the internet, and bigger than open source, and of which AI is one manifestation.”

It is vintage O’Reilly, a sweeping, swerving rumination that is always intensely focused on the currents actually going on in the world of technology, rather than some rarified theory. More than many futurists or pundits, for decades O’Reilly has observed and embraced whatever is emerging from a given programming  language or software “stack.” He sees and doesn’t pass judgment, but takes it all in and points out the enduring and significant.

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Futurist Tim O'Reilly Sees a Human-Computer Symbiosis Bigger Than AI