Updated: Nov 16, 2021
“The coming wave of automation will move way beyond the factory or public infrastructure and into our very biological processes such as aging and even giving birth. Used as we are to the gradual societal shifts brought about by previous change waves, often allowing decades to adjust and respond, I ask if we as a tribe are ready to abdicate our human sovereignty to the faceless forces of technology? Are you ready for the biggest loss of free will and individual human control in history?”
― Gerd Leonhard
Gerd Leonhard is a German futurist, author of “Technology vs Humanity: The coming clash between man and machine”, public speaker who specializes in the debate between humanity and technology. His ambition was not only to bring attention to ever growing risk, but mostly to open a debate on the subjects. He invites us to take a step back and review where we are going in relationship with technology, to evaluate the projections into the future of humanity.
The subject may not not be appealing to a wide range of population. We have a choice to look away, shift our attention to something more pleasant to discuss, and continue living in the illusion that changes are not happening and they do not affect us in any way. We may choose to stay blissfully unaware or face the fact that global changes will tough every one of us, and they already do. Machines that are programmed to perform certain tasks are the cause of the growing human deskilling. The internet and our most loved devices are threats to our privacy, as we are leaving digital footprints everywhere we go. The Internet of Things opens up a whole range of threats and risks. Artificial Intelligence is already predicted to be one of the biggest threats to humanity. It is all just the beginning.
Without getting too deep into the advanced technological progress, let’s look closely into our day to day life. We are addicted to our smartphones, computers, appliances, cars and other devices and electronics that we count on a regular basis. Did you notice that we prefer to send a text message rather than make a phone call. We may justify it like “the person will reply when they have time”, “I don’t want to interrupt the person at the moment”, etc. and it might be very true sometimes, though not in the majority of cases. Studies show that excessive texting may lead to a deficiency in interpersonal development, affect our ability to communicate effectively and to form meaningful relationships.
I would agree with Gerd Leonhard that we can find a balanced way forward that will allow us to embrace technology but not become technology, to use it as a tool and not as a purpose. Though if we fail to consider all risks , like explosions, the world may face much more dangerous consequences than a nuclear war.
The benefits of the technological world are countless, possibly as its threats. Just the ability to communicate to relatives, friends, even strangers all around the world is priceless. Virtual Reality allows us to travel around the world and have mind blowing adventures and experiences. The Internet allows us to share and display our visions and ideas on forums and social media. It provides easy access to information, as well as educational opportunities for everyone. Online shopping is becoming more popular and convenient all around the world. Robotic automation boosts productivity, increases efficiency, improves analytics, even substitutes human presence when needed. Medical field is transforming - robots assist with surgeries, disinfecting rooms, dispensing medication, nursing, cleaning rooms, and more. The technology of 3D printed bio-parts is progressing faster than ever before. All of that and much more are coming with the technological progress!
Regardless of individual opinions, humanity relentlessly speeds toward an unavoidable merge with the world of technology. While we still have time and a free will, we can apply technological hygiene - use the technology to our advantage, rather than turning into our master.
Among everything else, the biggest question for me was - Can Robots Become Humans? Will the computers be capable not only to reach the level of human awareness, but the ability to feel and have emotions?
The answer came as clear as the daylight. Yes, it is possible to create a robot that will replicate everything that humans do and even better, as long as we can describe, define and put into words for programming. Though, life is a more complex process than the process of thoughts, emotions, feelings and intuition. Life itself is complex, words alone would not be enough to describe it, so as consciousness which is the base of life.