We live in an age of machines, but how we interact with them will dramatically change in a very short space of time. For most of us it will be how we adapt and interact with technology that will be the biggest change. Is anyone really listening or thinking about what this means to how we interact?
At the moment we manage our lives by our phones, tablets and devices – we enter info and apps and software provide us with data, media, news, preferences and suggestions. It’s all very transactional. We do something, from setting an alarm last thing at night through to ordering items to receive a service.
But we are starting to move away from simple apps towards machine learning, from information to true big data. Moving from computing to thinking and relating. Perhaps this will mean the biggest change in how we perceive how we work and live with computers and data?
Thinking is something that we are about to (partly) outsource and that is where the ethical and social quandaries start. How much of your day-to-to thinking or decision making are you willing to let a machine do for you? Amazon with Alexa will help you control your life but what about your business thinking? Cognitive computing is here and has benefits for business and for home. We train for years to become an expert on a topic, but a computer now has the ability to draw on this expertise and learn from other examples online.
What about in work and within the workspace? It’s changing to be more social and to have less large formal spaces but still have small breakout rooms of different types. Technology firms and the office of the future
What about Art? Well IBM Watson has been collating an exhibition on Marie Curie and painting portraits from cognitive data: IBM’s Watson looked into my soul and ‘drew’ my portrait
How about Creativity and problem solving? Maybe putting a computer in the brain is not too far off after all: Brain implants
In my view the data that Amazon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft etc. hold on each of us currently and how they start to link data sets together in terms of preferences, likes, dislikes, our routines etc – basically everything we do will be linked to us could be the scary part. But, will this empower or marginalize us? Perhaps that doesn’t matter? Perhaps we are comfortable to be monitored in this way as it will help us in our lives?
As an example, for those that hate shopping Thread.com provides clothes and accessories delivered to your door. These are picked based upon your likes and some fashion advice from their stylists. Read the recent review here: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jul/19/thread-fashion-stylist-startup-machine-learning-ai
So, all of this stuff is becoming easier to do from your sofa, but it lacks the experience and any interaction with a real person. Many will not have a problem with this. But I for one like picking stuff out for myself. As with any technology, is this really freeing us or is it having a reverse effect – by removing our need for personal choice and decision making? (Maybe I do want to wear those red Converse after all?) What if we all start using AI to choose our clothes, food, services and we all become similar but less interesting versions of our former selves? Or we evolve into a hyper-breed of thinkers linked to the power of computing?
For me the fear of the technology taking over is not in the takeover itself. I’m fairly comfortable that this has happened already. My concern is that the more we use technology in work or at home, the more isolated and lonely we become. Too much social media ‘increases loneliness and envy’ – study
But the power of cognitive computing will be immense. How we utilise it is still work in progress and a choice.
Topics such as cognitive computing and the impact upon the future of work and business will be debated at Working Futures on 14th November. For more information see: http://expeditemain.wpengine.com/events/working-futures-winter-2017-delegatehr-director-registration/