NEW YORK—Samantha Jordan, head of computing and technology at the Future Today Institute, doesn’t predict the future. Instead, she and her group utilize what they call strategic foresight, a disciplined and systematic approach to identify where to play, how to win in the future, and how to ensure organizational resiliency in the face of unforeseen disruption. The proprietary strategic foresight methodology is intended to enable organizations to plan for unpredictable futures with certainty.

Futurist Samantha Jordan encouraged the audience to look 10 years into the future and ask themselves “if they were optimistic or pessimistic about the future of AI” and how they would advise their patients or clients.

“We don’t actually predict the future,” Jordan told the audience of optical business leaders, industry executives and eyecare professionals as the keynote speaker at the 2024 VM Leadership Summit in New York that focused on artificial intelligence. “I model multiple, plausible versions of the future. That way, a business that we work with can look at those multiple futures and decide what they need to do to be prepared for any of those futures. Really what we do is much more about preparation than prediction.”

She said, “Our goal is to help you prepare for the future by how you bring value to your patients and your clients in the age of artificial intelligence. We’re going to focus on how AI is reshaping health care, how you can use some of these technologies for diagnostics and the treatment of eye disease.”

Jordan began her presentation with an AI primer, then worked her way through two insights from the recently released 2024 FTI trend report, before concluding with two “what-if” scenarios about the future of AI, one pessimistic and the other optimistic.

“Our world feels a bit rocked by artificial intelligence,” Jordan said. “AI is a broad category of technology. When we say AI, there’s a lot of things we can mean. Generative AI systems not only sense and understand the world but can also generate new, textually aware content, concepts and ideas while communicating with us. And the reason it can do so is because of the ‘T’ in GPT.

“The ‘T’ is important. It stands for ‘transformer.’ The transformer architecture excels at understanding the context and sequence of words, making it particularly well-suited for tasks that require understanding, interpreting and generating human-like text.” Jordan shifted to address how AI is developing the ability to reason. She referenced her first insight from the 2024 FTI trends report, where she noted that “2024 is the year we move past the uncanny valley.”

“If you’re not familiar with this concept, this is basically a concept where a humanoid object that looks almost like a real human, but not quite, can make us feel uncomfortable.” She also noted that “surpassing the uncanny valley means new threats but also new opportunities to forge connections. The application of the technology matters and changes whether it’s an opportunity or a risk.”

The second insight from the FTI trends report Jordan spoke about was how ‘AI will know us inside and out.’ “AI doesn’t just ingest textual data, it ingests images, sounds, videos and biometric behavioral patterns that are subconscious,” she said. She also stressed that in a world of deep fakes, it’s how you apply AI technology that matters most.

Jordan closed her presentation by encouraging the audience to look 10 years into the future and ask themselves if they were optimistic or pessimistic about the future of AI and how they would advise their patients or clients.

She warned that a pessimistic view of AI in 2034 may lead to the deterioration of patient relationships, the erosion of trust and privacy as a thing of the past. Conversely, an optimistic view of the future in 2034 could include AI enabling more accurate diagnoses and personalized treatment of patients, rural areas that previously lacked sufficient physical coverage could now be equipped with remote examination tools, and a breakdown of cultural barriers which would allow communication with your patients in whatever language they speak.

“This is where we go from sci-fi to reality,” Jordan said. “This is where you go back to your teams and figure out what you are going to do next. And whether we have a pessimistic version of the future or an optimistic version ultimately depends on the decisions you and I make around how we apply the technologies we spoke about today.”