Technology and AI are being embraced like the Holy Grail. Every manager is gravitating towards it. You ask why, and people will say:
It will make us more proficient; give us more leisure time,
It will replace inefficient, highly paid workers,
It will increase profits,
We will be able to serve our customers and employees better,
It will help us become healthier.
It will allow us to do much more with less.
The list is much bigger and growing.
Customer Value Foundation is co-hosting The International Conference on Creating Value for the Future of AI and Society in Kobe, Japan on October 15-17, 2019 along with the University of Kobe and japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. Speakers from the US and Japan, NEC, Fujitsu, IBM, Data & Society Research Institute will speak. We will discuss the issues of value creation and destruction by technology and the future. What should society be doing to gain the best advantage from technology and avoid potential dangers? Some items include
Mass customisation: Everything will become customised, whether you are a student or a customer. As a student for a particular course you will be taught differently than your fellow students. Will there be a knowledge pill or knowledge beaming? Will customers be given the experience they seek? Will they become used to the experience and will not be able to think of other experiences? Will people be cloned to fit a mould (mass customisation)?
Financial repercussions, financial areas such as banks and currency, and trading: What happens to buying power when robots cause job loss? And to change how we trade?
If we are to remain in control, we must redefine who and what we are as human beings. Are we defined by what we do and how much we earn? (As is largely the case today). Or will technology in fact push us to begin exploring the deeper underlying questions of what it means to be human? What it means to lead a “good” life? What it means to actively contribute to creating value for society and the planet as a whole?
Financial Services: What happens to banks, money dispensing, cash, bit coins, the medium of exchange, and the issue of trust?
On the other hand, digital addresses give an identity to homeless people. Credit ratings can now be done for the bottom of the pyramid people through their mobile interaction analysis, to see if they fit the mode to give a loan to.
Manufacturing, jobs and people, labour, leisure time
Jobs and Manufacturing: Great advances in productivity and cost reduction is seen.
We see a short term reduction in costs when robots replace humans. Less complaining, less downtime and coffee breaks. However, we soon find people who are without jobs and unable to buy, reducing sales.
As robotisation happens, more and more leisure time will be available, spawning new industries for using leisure time and entertainment. Labour customisation will happen. Choices will be limited by people who define what you should be.
As jobs are lost, our economic thinking might change. Human beings will have to redefine ‘worth’ and humanness when they cannot earn. Will such changes force us to re-think what it means to be a human?
The brain’s ability to analyse problems reduces due to under usage, when analytical tools available start doing the brain’s work. This even happens with convenience tools. When we cannot find someone’s email address, we often stop instead of sending a snail mail or a courier to the land address, or even make a phone call. The brain will need more exercise as technology takes over the brain’s functions.
Society, its regulation and control, its readiness to absorb technology and reaction to technology are all issues to be tackled. Aging and managing humans will be impacted by technology.
Customers, their wellbeing, their buying and selling, retail etc. will change and the control will pass on to machines. Will there be a world of exchange with new technology?
Value recuperation by better collaboration of technology and society is another important factor. This is one of the most important positive aspects of technology. It enables, even empowers human beings to be more with less.
Transport and Travel: Teleporting, drones, individual travel pods, less waiting, faster movement. What do we do with our extra time? What happens to our concept of enjoying transport and travel, if we can see and experience everything with VR?
Healthcare: The future will bring in more testing of humans as medical science advances. Testing for microbe distribution in the intestines, to cancer screening, to genetic defects and so on will become possible. Eventually, nanobots will put energy into the body, and food will become passé, making us intestine and stomach free. Oxygen will go into our cells through nanobots, making the heart redundant. We will be a skeleton supported by muscles.
Privacy: We are all facing this issue, and are now afraid to use Alexa, or give information, and are shocked when our private information is gathered by Google et al, like our trip pictures, itineraries, etc. and worse still shared with others. Technology incursion into our homes and daily chores is an issue.
Stores know all about us, and can try to manipulate us.
Our privacy can be saved by ‘Safe Pod’ (by Berners Lee, founder of the internet) or the HAT project discussed by Irene Ng at the 1st Global Conference on Creating Value.
Quality of Human Interaction: Texting and chats are replacing face to face meetings. The number of your Facebook friends is no sign of true friends you have. Industrialization, urbanization and mass media have undermined the communal basis of society. More and more personalization is seen and this is as an evil because it makes consumption nuclear, recognizes and values the individuality in each of us. Technology (Big Data, algorithm) leverages individuality at the detriment of collectivity, says Pierre Nicholas Schwab. How do we change this before technology redefines our humanness? Technology also leads to loss of control for each of us. Will this mean individuality will be accompanied by mass cloning ideas?
The net is making us disconnected and single and lonely, just as it makes us more connected!
Unintended and unforeseen consequences: such as killer and evil robots. Or the monkey with the human brain put in by Chinese scientists? Or cloning?
Humans do not have to take responsibility for their actions: Systems that can use machine learning to predict and help solve problems can also be used to purposely control and act in ways that will make people redundant. The danger happens when machine intelligence exceeds our ability to understand it, or it becomes superior intelligence, we should take care to not blindly follow its recommendation and absolve ourselves of all responsibility, says Chris Kirby, Voices.com
We cannot forget cyber-attacks, weapons of mass destruction (such as star war weapons) with new technology. We also have to be wary of technology poacher’s intent on making money for themselves or destroying value for others.
There are many more subjects. The reader can imagine the wider canvas and how we and society can move forward in tandem with technology.
Technology has so many positive ramifications for the future of humankind, from health to travel, to time management to convenience. There is much constructive power of technology, too.
Technology can be very helpful and positive for us and at the same time, a weapon of destruction. For a more balanced view of technology, watch two TED talks: Kevin Kelly ‘How AI can bring on a second Industrial Revolution’ and Kai-Fu Lee ‘How AI can save our humanity’.
We need to regulate technology. Who should do so? Governments, People or Corporate and technology leaders. This has to happen in a slow analog situation to avoid the knee jerk quick (what Kahnemann calls the instinctual portion of the brain) reaction, to prevent those only exposed to the digital world (the youngest people) to think only technology, to prevent Governments and corporates to look only at their interests. This is a tall order but must be done. What is the meaning of ethics in an evolving technological world, or should we live by our current ethics?
Technology regulations formed democratically are the first step. It requires listening and introspection. Perhaps we should have advanced courses on controlling AI and AI safety! Perhaps we should not become lazy with all these conveniences, and use our brains to be vigilant and be able to go to authorities overseeing the dominance of humans over technology for corrective action.
We should remember technology does not ruin our lives, we do.
Technology is NOT the source of all evils, but has to be managed to be the source of our positive future. Martijn Rademakers of University of Amsterdam said: ‘Tech’ nowadays is sometimes like a speed boat without a rudder: it moves fast forward but not necessarily into the direction we want. When it hits the reef it will be too late. We need a helmsman – i.e., thinking leadership. Let us balance the good with the potential bad, and use the good and manage the bad. This is why we are conducting The International Conference on Creating Value for the Future of AI and Society in Kobe, Japan on October 15-17, 2019.
Come join us in understanding, analysing the future and providing solutions. Speak and participate.
Key dates are:
Early Bird Registration: August 15, 2019
Regular Registration: October 1, 2019
Paper Submission: July 15, 2019