There is a concept thrown around in science fiction and futurological circles called an Engineer in a Box (EIAB). The Idea is that one could make a non-general AI or expert system that would have the ability to design anything requested of it. Of course with limitations physical, technological etc. much like the kind of engineer we presently make out of meat.
The Engineer does not need to be self-aware pass a Turing test or even carry on a conversation. Those things would actually be a distraction, although some natural language processing would be nice. It would most likely be using genetic algorithms and simulation to give us the desired object anyway and would thus not “think” in a way intelligible to us. One would tell the EIAB
“Design a suspended sex chair in the style of Corbusier for a 400 lb. Edgar Winter look alike with sciatica”
For instance and
“bleerp bleep bloop”
It spits out a perfect design for your disturbingly specific needs not only taking account Fat Edgar’s girth and sciatica but complementing his snowy complexion. Take it to the next level and hook the EIAB to a 3d printer and ya got things cooking.
But what about the other end? The input. If an EIAB is possible, why not a MRIAB? This Market Researcher in a Box could sift through all that juicy data on the nets, figure out trends, decide out what consumer products are “needed” feed them to the EIAB which then designs them. They are printed out, made available on Amazon prime and delivered by drones. While we are at it why don’t we add a Marketer in a box? The MIB designs ads, promotes the product through Google and Clear Channel maybe even makes a few computer animated TV commercials. If instead of hard goods software is our desire a Programmer in a Box would replace the EIAB and ITunes would replace Amazon.
Here is the fun part put all this sophisticated but weak AI in one box get it a bank account and a coupla grand, let it bootstrap (in the business sense). You end up with Apple with no Steve Jobs in fact no jobs at all. Our entrepreneur in a box does not take a salary, does not buy yachts, hookers or blow. Really does not buy much of anything at all. All it needs to do is pay its electric and internet bills and sell stuff for less than its overhead. No salaries, no bonuses, no dividends, no debt repayment. This would give it something of a market advantage allowing it undercut its human competition while still turning a profit.
The question in world were such an enterprise exists is
“How do we convince the Poor that they are Lazy?”
Maybe we can ask the Programmer in a Box to make us a Sophist in a Box?