For the past 50 years, Moore’s Law (1965) has been orchestrating technological advancements in the era of digital and information technology. The idea of continuous doubling is what transformed computers from enormous boxes to the supercomputers embedded in our mobile devices. Where will this exponential pattern of development bring humanity and its creations though?
The unprecedented exponential growth in technological development will lead to global transformations in the way we live, work and relate with each other. Humanity is on the verge of the Fourth Industrial Revolution which has evolved in a distinct age due to its velocity, scope and systems impact. The ongoing technological disruptions will soon start altering drastically different industries and markets. Advances in the areas of autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, robotics, and biotechnology have the capacity to turn our current reality upside down. Labor markets are an example of current disruptive change due to developments in Artificial Intelligence. This raises the question whether robots will substitute humans in the future. Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee remind us about the dark side technology has. They outline the threatening results of robotics on the elimination of workplaces for humans. The MIT economists do not deny the increased levels of productivity and rising GDP, resulting from technological development. Their observations, however, create a paradoxical framework whose focus is also on the decreasing demand for human workers. The reason behind this lies in the ability of robots to replace not just physical, but also cognitive human skills. The threat robots pose to human workforce representatives will displace the focus on collaborative social skills humans will distinguish with. In his book, Humans Are Underrated, Geoff Colvin focuses on humans’ ability to deal with emotions (a skill AI machines lack). This lens is at the core of redefining the new economy as a social economy where those who can collaborate both with humans and machines will have a competitive advantage. Despite the advantages of exponential technological development, the creation of greater inequality is still an alarming concern.
Robotics is not the only topic surrounded by a narrative of controversy. Jason Silva, National Geographic’s Brain Games’ host, encourages people to pay attention to the currently developing disruptive technology as it will define the trajectory of our lives. The futurist stresses the duality of technology’s nature, outlining both its positive and negative potential impacts. In his talk, Silva uses the metaphor of playing with codes as genetical information. The immediate change that will result from biotechnological advances could increase human lifespan. All these ideas come down to the question what will happen next. The combination of biotechnology, nanotechnology, and robotics, according to Google’s Director of Engineering, Ray Kurzweil, will lead to computer intelligence, surpassing human intelligence by 2045. The concept, known as Technological Singularity, is often surrounded by a periphery of fear, coming from the uncertain predictions about the future which might lead to the extinction of the human kind as we know it. We shape the future of technology, but do we know how it will shape back humanity? One thing is certain, though – the exponential rate of technological development will redefine the reality we currently live in.Something to consider is how this inevitable change towards advances of technological nature can be utilized to preserve the planet.
Expecting the unexpected,