TTMA 2018: Steve Bryan, Vigillo President

Robot uprising - Vigillo president says big data, quantum computing accelerating technological development at ‘unimaginable’ pace

July 5, 2018
TTMA 2018 coverage

Skynet really is coming to destroy us.

But if we’re going to survive the threat from artificial intelligence, fueled by ‘big data’ and quantum computing, it probably won’t be with help from a futuristic soldier – as in the original 1984 “The Terminator” movie – but rather a team of Google scientists, according to Vigillo President Steve Bryan in his presentation at the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association convention.

“The power of computers today is about to go through the stratosphere in ways that are almost impossible to imagine,” said Bryan, whose 11-year-old company collects, compiles and analyzes data from around the trucking industry in an effort to improve motor carrier safety with actionable plans.

Big data’s had a big impact on the rate of change in these “incredible” times.

In the past, major advancements in technology were separated by hundreds and even tens of thousands of years, from the invention of clothing in roughly 50,000 BC to the first boat built 38,000 years later.

Bryan also pointed out the vast spans of time between the inventions of written language, wheels, iron tools and the printing press – which jumpstarted the technology revolution – and, finally, the internet.

Similar developments are occurring closer and closer together – and quantum computing’s around the corner.

“All this internet stuff starts happening – and the revolution begins,” Bryan said.

With the creation of the first web browser and first North American web server in the early 1990s, people started going online, with a million connected computers initially and half a billion within a few years, leading to the first networks and, eventually, internet-connected devices in every space.

“All this stuff is generating all this massive data that is fueling this unconstrained growth of data that is now available for the AI engines and quantum computers,” Bryan said.

“Google estimated that, back in the early 2000s, the sum total of all data generated by humanity stood at about five exabytes, total,” Bryan said.

“Today, Google will tell you that five exabytes of data are generated every day.”

AIs are soaking it up – and using it to replace people in the workforce.

Forrester recently predicted artificial intelligence would eliminate 9 percent of jobs this year. That’s equal to the number of jobs lost in the Great Recession of the late 2000s – only those jobs came back.

“AI eliminates 10 million jobs, they’re not coming back,” Bryan said.

It’s happening today, so learning how to adjust culturally, including job training and realigning human resources, is imperative.

Bryan brought up several examples of how AI already is replacing people, including drivers, with autonomous vehicles, insurance underwriters, bank tellers, financial analysts, construction workers and even farmers.

A German dairy farm is using robots to help cows determine when to milk themselves.

“It’s a little unsettling to me to picture these cows wandering around and deciding to go get milked by a robot while we all sit around on our couches with our VR goggles on playing games,” Bryan said.

Manufacturing jobs making America great again is a fantasy, Bryan said, because AI advancements don’t necessitate hundreds of people on assembly lines, and even attorneys and move stars are in danger.

And that’s without fully realized quantum computing.

Traditional computers are fast, but they only deal in bits, looking at ones and zeroes one at a time, making today’s 128-bit encryption, which protects online transactions, nearly impossible to decode.

A quantum computer can crack the most complex existing encryption in a month.

“At the atomic level, quantum computers look at the electrons and see what state they’re in, positive or negative, but they don’t look at it one time and it’s on or off,” Bryan said. “They can see all possible states at the same time.”

Computers also are powered in part by transistors, and Apple’s newest iPhone contains about 10 million. 

With new quantum transistors, one grain of sand could contain 10 quintillion.

“These quantum computers fueling AI will evolve so fast that we will not be able to keep up,” Bryan said.

That’s why Stephen Hawking, before his death, predicted AI isn’t just coming for our jobs, it’s after our lives.

And that’s why Google’s scientists are busy developing a kill switch to save us all. 

“If AI evolves fast, takes over and starts making decisions that may not be positive for humans, they want to be able to shut the thing off,” Bryan said. “They want to keep Skynet from coming to life, becoming aware and slaughtering the human race.”