I agree that as a general rule intelligence will make us better decision makers and we'll do a better job at the next layer of transformation. There are a couple of existing problems with that, though, which worry me:
First, we already have tremendously expanding intelligences, in many meaningful senses. For instance we are all connected now to various Oracles which can instantly give us any kind of factual information. Do you remember (because the kids don't!) when it was hard to come by the answer to questions like "What's the capital of Angola?" Now it's literally
as easy as typing the words "capital of Angola." That is a radical transformation of human intelligence.
But these free floating facts are not obligated, by their existingness, to actually rationalize or deepen the human experience. So far the facts just sit there on servers, waiting for you to care
about the capital of Angola
, which no one in the USA does, apparently. You can lead a culture to information, but can you make it drink?
Another trend that worries me is the existence of closed operating systems. Microsoft has been a hellish thing-- it would almost
have been better to have the OS written by the government-- and the future is looking worse. Cell phones are powerful computers, more powerful than the ones I grew up with, but they're a weird new kind of computer that you can't program
. They won't even run BASIC. They won't let you upload arbitrary ringtones. That's fucked up. That's really, dangerously fucked up.
But putting those points aside, I still think you're right. I think that while these last few waves of AI haven't very deeply transformed the way average people think about the world, we're almost due for some that will. It feels to me like there is a thinner and thinner shell of denial stopping the flow of transformation, and it's going to start to break. It's not what's available
to people that changes how a culture acts-- it's what they actually use, and particularly what they use habitually
Web2.0ishness is only changing the way a few geeks think, now; it can only change the culture in general once a whole lot of people have each made a decision to make some far out web tool a part of their personal particular life. I watched this happen with my husband, as he set up his new Google homepage with news about wine and art and Sudoku and an animated pony. He doesn't give a damn about Web 2.0, he just knew that his Google homepage somehow got really awesome lately. The web now has TV really solidly beat-- it even has TV!-- but it still
hasn't taken over from TV as the ruling medium of our culture. Over the next few years it will, and then I think we will see the change penetrate to a whole different level of our cultural unconscious.