My recent blog: AI – don’t expect a revolution created some interesting discussions around the topic of artificial intelligence (AI) and the future of humans.
On the more negative side issues such as loss of jobs in a variety of sectors but most importantly this time in areas such as medical diagnostics, financial planning, investment advice, insurance brokers, mathematicians and statisticians and so the list goes on for mainly middle class and higher class jobs. Little effect on plumbers, carpenters, electricians and other trades that require on the spot physical solutions.
Intelligent robots are other developments that create fear in some people, within the not so distance future they indeed could have more ‘brain’ power than humans and what does that mean for the human race. However, not just (the Hollywood) robots are a ‘threat’, technology in general is changing this field, intelligent DNA design of babies is now also possible, so we could breed very specific people such as soldiers, musicians, doctors and so on. I am not quite sure which one of these two technological developments is better or more frightening.
At the same time we also know that these technological developments will not stop simply because of fear and uncertainty, we humans are driven to use technology to in what we believe improves our lives and yes in many of such developments there are dangerous elements attached to that.
Perhaps a good example here is nuclear technology; this most certainly is another frightening technology with the ultimate invention of the atom bomb. However, in all reality nuclear technology is used mainly for peaceful purposes and has been very beneficiary for the medical industry, energy production and many other areas. At the same time we as global human beings have understood the dangers of this technology and have put international arrangements in place to avoid the misuse of this technology and despite some very serious disasters such as Hiroshima, Chernobyl and Fukushima, we have been able to manage these very dangerous aspects now for over 70 years.
While there will also be disasters with AI, if we do have good global arrangements in place they can be limited and any rouge elements misusing the technology will (eventually) be suppressed. I am not saying that these are not dangerous situations and potentially dangerous technologies it is up to us to use them in the appropriate.
There are far too many positive elements to AI – we absolutely need AI to address some of the complex and increasingly global social, economic and environmental problems – so there is no way stopping these developments from happening, but it is up to us to manage it. As we have indicated on many occasions we can’t keep on following the same linear way of human development that has basically guided us since WWII, we need some massive changes to policies, economic strategies, social priorities and technologies in order to move forwards to a world that has grown from 2.5 billion people in 1950 to one that will have 9 billion inhabitants by 2050. Nothing less than a global economic and social transformation is required to mange such a new world.
I believe that also thanks to new technologies – including AI – increasingly many of these new developments will be driven from a grassroots level – communities and cities – rather than from national or international levels.
Ever since we humans developed we have invented new tools and so far we have been able to use them to our advantage, admittedly the pace of change has dramatically increased and we do have problems with keeping up with that level of pace, at the same the pressure resulting from this can easily lead to ‘accidents’ that could have far reaching consequences, but than again we are facing this in other areas as well, I mentioned nuclear technology but biological warfare is another technology that has been with us for more than 100 years and yes this remains a threat and misuses do happen, but again we have been able as a global society to address this.
In all reality the full effects of AI will not be with us for another 100 years, so that gives us time to learn from what will be developed between now and than and accordingly we will put national and global legislation, regulations and arrangements in place as we have done in the past.
To a certain extend our human progress has been one of muddling along, innovations, breakthroughs in technology and the use of it is hard to plan and manage, it happens and we consequently judge what we as human beings like and those elements are being developed and along the lines of these developments we find ways to plan and manage these developments better. There is no reason to believe that AI will not follow a similar pattern.
How this all will end up for us human beings remains of course a question, there will be many more new jobs that we can’t even think about, but also will this lead to a different way of living. If we go back to our nomadic hunter-gathering forbears, they approximately used 40% less of their time that we do now to do their work. As long as it improves our overall lifestyle a different balance between work and leisure could also be upon us going forwards. The sharing economy facilitated by technology will most likely be one of the most important job creation areas, the nature of the job however, will change with those involved in the sharing economy taking a larger ownership role of their job, rather than relying on employers.
Far more important than technology are issues such as social global equality and human displacements because of political, religious or cultural differences, but again new technologies can be used – and are used – to build bridges between people and to include more people into the global economy and in general to empower people to make their own decisions and to think for themselves. Adding this brain power to the global human cause will only strengthen our global ability to address some of the other issues mentioned above.
- BuddeComm Intelligence Report – Smart Societies based on Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning
- Global Smart Infrastructure – Smart Cities and Artificial Intelligence the Way Forward
- Broadband Infrastructure facilitates Economic Transformation through Digital Productivity
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