“With our growing dependence on artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and autonomous products, we face an erosion of basic skills as well as many deep questions about how this technology affects humankind. To explore this paradigm shift, NetApp’s VP of Brand and Influence, Emily Miller, recently sat down for a conversation with CEO of The Futures Agency and author of Technology Vs. Humanity, Gerd Leonhard. They discussed the future of digital transformation, technology companies’ ethical responsibilities, and the importance of maintaining our humanity in the face of automation.
Science Fiction becomes Science Fact
As technologies give us new capabilities, we become more and more dependent on them and, according to Leonhard, risk “‘amputating’ the skills we once had.” Miller agreed, describing a recent trip on which she couldn’t find anyone to give her local directions. Instead, they all suggested that she use Google Maps. “What do we need to do to make sure that we’re not amputating?” Miller asked. “Having GPS is wonderful, but I still need to know how to navigate.”
In 10 years, technology will be limitless, said Leonhard—and potentially dangerous if left unchecked. Society frowns on certain technological innovations, such as autonomous weapons. Other innovations, like the first gene-edited babies—an advance that Leonhard discussed in his NetApp® Insight® 2018 Barcelona keynote—are debatable. Miller wondered about the role that ethics plays–and will continue to play–in these scenarios, given that different societies approach these capabilities from different points of view. “Defining right and wrong isn’t necessarily easy,” Leonhard said. “For example, if you lose both of your legs in a car accident, of course you should have [the option to get] prostheses. But what if you voluntarily say you would lose your legs to get new ones that are better? That’s probably not good, and who would decide? That’s Supreme Court material…”