Being human in an age of A.I.
‘When I grow up I want to be HUMAN!’ Imagine this as the life path your child or teen would consciously consider in a rapidly developing age of artificial intelligence (A.I.). Let’s explore what is means to be human in an age of A.I.
In his ‘Space Odyssey’ books (written half a century ago) Arthur C. Clarke envisaged a future society that had evolved into robotic machines; humans clad in technology, programmed with downloadable knowledge, spending much time in a virtual reality. Much of what this visionary conceived is upon us!
Technology is fascinating, essential and full of inspirational design and having robots will surely add another dimension to our world. In the race to embrace robots and artificial intelligence, how many will keep sight of the elements that distinguish us as human beings?
At Inspire fest 2018 in Dublin, Tim Leberecht (Co-founder & CEO of the Business Romantics Society) addressed the audience on the topic of ‘Business Romantics’. He had this to say about being human in an age of A.I. ‘the question is not will robots be able to think like humans but, will humans be able to feel?’ He added, ‘are we engineering the romantics out of our lives?’
In essence he was talking about love; the creation of stories and the pursuit of dreams. Those things that propel us forward and give us something to aspire to, other than being a functional part of a large machine. Our capacity to feel is surely vital to our existence as humans!
‘the question is not will robots be able to think like humans but, will humans be able to feel?’ – Tim Leberecht, Co-founder & CEO of the Business Romantics Society
I confess, over 20 years ago I was an endangered human, long before I was aware of Arthur C. Clarke or any developing age of A.I. Over time I had reached the conclusion that it was better not to feel at all and to think only of work. I was avoiding some critical areas of my life and as people say ‘forgetting the past’. This was the recipe for my disaster which thankfully resulted in what I refer to as my ‘Break True’ in 1999.
From that moment on, l began to grow up as a HUMAN! I realised that I am someone whose strengths are empathy, intuition, creativity and meaningful communication (story-telling in all its forms). I had to work at developing these strengths and bringing them to the fore. I call this my ‘Authentic Path’.
It is so easy to numb out of living and get lost in the latest gadgets, TV shows and social channels. Living life like a machine running on auto-pilot is not a new scenario but it could become a habitual way of existing for multitudes if awareness is not created alongside the development of A.I.
While robots and artificial intelligence will play very useful roles in our development, it is us humans who need to also develop in our awareness so as to create a world that reflects the best of who we are and can be.
Alexa Gorman (Global Vice-President at SAP.iO Fund & Foundry) also spoke at Inspirefest 2018, on the topic of ‘A.I. and Diversity’. She drew attention to the fact that, left unchecked, bias get picked up by A.I. and gets incorporated into algorithms. Alexa gave the example of the ‘Tay’ bot experiment, where the twitter bot, picking up on the interaction of trolls, very quickly transformed into a racist, sexist bigot and had to be shut down after only 16 hours. Alexa pointed out that ‘we need to consciously choose to reflect the world around us to reduce biases. She also mentioned that 180 biases have currently been identified and classified and she finished up by saying that ‘diverse talent is required for inclusive A.I.’
‘we need to consciously choose to reflect the world around us to reduce biases’ Alexa Gorman, Global Vice-President at SAP.iO Fund & Foundry
As much as A.I. may benefit our lives, it is vital that we constantly evolve our capacity to be human, not just to think but to feel, to have compassion, to contemplate and to make real, a world of inclusivity and respect. This has always been at the heart of our survival.
In my article, ‘Five Steps to becoming a robot, is this happening to you?’, I highlight some of the ways we may be neglecting to stay human. Are you ready to move forward as a human?
Thank you to Darragh Doyle for providing my blogger ticket to Inspirefest 2018. Follow Darragh on twitter @darraghdoyle
Your thoughts and opinions as always are welcome – thank you for reading mine.
© Caroline Cunningham
Inspiring your Authentic Path