Technology has permeated our civilization in such a way, that living without it is what apocalyptic movies are based on. Everything from the power grid to clean water, depends on one form of technology or another.
Machine learning, autonomous code, cognitive intelligence, and artificial intelligence combined with the accumulation of data, is accepted as beneficial and is expanding exponentially without any real discussion of the potential repercussions.
In the last decade we have jumped willingly into the next paradigm shift. What exactly is a paradigm shift? It is when a generally accepted model for making sense of how we live our lives is replaced by another pattern of thinking, acting, and set of accepted logic. All you have to do is look at how technology such as Siri, Alexa, Google Maps, self-parking cars and the like have been embraced by a large portion of our society as a normal part of our daily lives. Our children are being raised to interact with these products as if they are interacting with another human being. We, and our children no longer look or think of these products and services for what they are… computer code. The next iteration of computer code that is becoming an accepted part of our society are robots and true Artificial Intelligence.
There are those that are fearful that our civilization will one day be under attack from robots and technology, that has an intellectual and physical advantage over us. This is only possible if we leave ourselves open to such an attack through ignorance manifested by our desire to simplify everything in our lives.
Our civilization’s paradigm shift is happening because the corporate culture that built our society is dependent on a workforce that is motivated by extrinsic rewards; a workforce that is willing to give up the intrinsic reward of value creation (health, happiness, family, etc.) for one of material gain and avoidance of work. We embrace technology that makes our lives easier, healthier, and supports a future that is filled with leisure time.
Many fear the effect on employment and joblessness…I agree that it will have a major impact on jobs, and not just in the manufacturing sector. It will have its greatest impact on medicine, law, and management. Technology such as IBM’s Watson, has already been proven to be more effective in diagnosing cancer, controlling our air traffic, and improving our supply chain. The use of technology such as facial recognition, voice analysis and more has given technology the ability to identify and document our personality, behavior, and decisions for use by technology to become like us…or a more efficient form of us. This collection of data that is underway by technology will give this “computer code” the ability to draw conclusions that are accepted and valued by us, blinding us to the fact that we are giving away our ability to think, to algorithms.
This can be a confusing and controversial topic, so let me delve into a deeper explanation. There are many terrible jobs that people have just to be able to feed and clothe themselves and their family. The use of robots, AI, and other technology in these instances are important to a healthy society, and yes, corporations benefit as well in these circumstances; this is an integral part of a mutual benefit culture.
The use of technology to bring healthcare to those in remote locations or to those that are not mobile are a fantastic benefit. Being able to make a medical diagnosis based upon the latest research vs. what a drug rep tells a medical professional is a major improvement in healthcare. Self-driving cars that can prevent deaths and help seniors stay independent longer are a benefit to society, not to mention preventing the anxiety many experience from parallel parking!
The use of robotics and technology to help those that have physical and mental limitations to gain parity with others cannot be overlooked. These are great advances and benefits to humanity and society as a whole.
Benefits to humanity like these are why I refuse to take a doom and gloom approach to technology… it’s just the opposite… I believe it can bring great value to our society and I propose that it is not the technology that is the threat, it’s not even the “bad actors” that can and will use technology for personal gain or to harm others, it is our own human nature that is the biggest threat! Our ability to give up the desire to think for ourselves is the biggest threat, and one that we are joyfully embracing.
My concern is that employees will give up their mightiness and their desire to be responsible for what happens to them. When we stop thinking for ourselves, we stop being responsible or accountable for the actions of the technology that we implement.
When the technology is given this mightiness by us, will it put an end to our desire and ability to create a mutually beneficial culture?