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BuddeComm Intelligence Report - Smart Societies based on Artificial Intelligence


Attention: There is an updated edition available for this report.

In this report we are combining our thoughts and knowledge based on Paul Budde’s position as an analyst in the communication technology market and his interest in history and philosophy. BuddeComm would like to present it as a set of thoughts, with a view to stimulating a discussion on topics such as human evolution, human-machine transcendency, smart societies and trans-sector thinking.

Given the current social, economic and political developments it becomes clear that we seem to have reached a ceiling in our intellectual ability to address the complex issues that society is facing. Society lacks the capacity that is required to address the holistic nature of the current challenges. Without that analytic capacity it will be impossible to come up with the right answers. We have arrived at times like this before in our history and they typically led to collapses of civilisations and the arrival of serious declines in living standards. If we are to avoid similar calamities, we need to break through that ceiling and find new tools to help us to create a smarter society.

Our lack of ability to see all the different complex issues as they relate to each other and to make thorough analyses of the overall situation is creating increased confusion, which in turn is being (mis)used by populist politicians and dumbed-down media. This makes it very difficult for society to get a good view – and to make sound judgments – of the true cost incurred by the lack of a holistic approach to the complex problems.

In this report we will explore whether the next stage of human evolution is going to depend on developing a collective human intellectual system – a global brain. This process is already underway through global interconnection, facilitated by technologies such as the internet, broadband, smartphones and mobility. The latest development is M2M (machine-to-machine), where we also link machines together and use so-called ‘big data’ technologies and analyses to better manage the various aspects of our society. This will lead to interaction and even integration between these two developments – merging humans and machines, something that is becoming increasingly possible through artificial intelligence (AI). Some of the predictions and scenarios discussed might not be exactly right, as we are pushing the boundaries of our current level of knowledge; some issues could attract strong responses from those with different views, and most likely some of the predictions will lead to totally different outcomes. But what really matters is the discussion itself.

Key developments:

Looking back over the 100,000 years of human evolution; the last 200 years is a short period, and yet the changes that have taken place during this time have been unimaginable. And what we are starting to see is that also this time our intellectual evolution does not seem to be able to keep up with the fast-moving social changes that have been set in motion and which are accelerating on a daily basis; In general, technology has worked to improve societies, and in particular – as we have seen over the last two decades – communication technologies play a key role in some of these developments (mobile in developing countries, internet, e-health, tele-education, smart grids). These technologies are generating enormous social and economic benefits around the world.

Latest developments:

In 2013 interest in “Deep Learning” techniques continues; A system being developed in the UK that builds computer games is also attracting industry attention as is a visual intelligence system from the United States. Watson, developed by IBM, is the first commercially available cognitive computing offering.

Technology concepts covered in this report:

Artificial intelligence (AI); Machine-to-Machine (M2M); Big Data; Cloud computing; Data Science; Cognitive Systems.


1. Synopsis
2. The proposition
3. Philosophy and science
4. Social and economic developments
5. Are we reaching another breaking point?
6. Solutions by using information technology to increase our intelligence
6.1 Silos need to be replaced by trans-sector thinking
6.2 Disintermediation brings people closer together
6.3 AI - assisting in creating a global brain
6.4 Cognitive Systems
6.4.1 Need for cognitive systems
7. Examples of recent developments
7.1 Watson – cognitive computing
7.2 Deep learning
7.3 Angelina
7.4 Cognitive Engine
8. Conclusion
9. Related reports
Table 1 - Selection of predictions in BT’s timeline
Exhibit 1 – Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Exhibit 2 – Watson in healthcare

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