( A twenty-minute read)
Today’s atomizing forces are brand new and far less tangible: ubiquitous Internet access, constant email and social-media updates, all distracting us from our surroundings, loved ones and other people around us.
Are we indeed socially hobbled by our little screens?
If matters have gotten worse, how would we know?
We’re disengaged.’ Compared to what?
If the new technologies are to fulfill their promise, it is necessary to direct attention towards the costs and concerns that come with the globalization of technology.
Although information technology and increased knowledge can empower everyone on an individual level, the limitations of the existing structures within the job market, socioeconomics, and governmental sovereignty are hard to cast away; an underlying irony has yet to be eliminated.
We are only just beginning to replacing vague theories with some hard data and the overarching effects so far point to the disruptive nature of technology.
So here are a few facts explaining how digital-age technologies have already transformed our world, for better and for worse.
Wealth boosted by technology has not been equally distributed.
By 2020, it is estimated that the 1 percent will own 54 percent of global wealth.
Thanks to technology, we can vent our frustration in increasingly visible ways.
Jobs will be computerized in the next 10-20 years.
With the rise of websites like WebMD, LegalZoom, and E*Trade, even white-collar professionals like lawyers, doctors, and financial middlemen are under threat from technology. Are any jobs safe? For the time being, positions that require empathy—say, nurses over doctors—are better positioned to withstand the technological blow.
Furthermore, governmental programs do not provide the assistance needed to help workers transition to the technological age, further wedging the gap between rural and urban. This disparity is also magnified within the stratification of international systems: The digital divide that exists among developed and developing countries is obvious and the high cost of bringing broadband and technology to third-world countries is an issue that needs to be solved.
Health will be run by algorithms attached to the cloud.
To put this in perspective, a full human genome sequence cost $100 million in 2002. Today, it can be done for $1,000; by 2020 it may cost less than a cup of coffee.
Technology can be a double-edged sword, but at least when it comes to our health (if not necessarily our medical professionals), it has largely been a force for good but just imagine what is going to happen to Health Insurance when your health is monitored by the Cloud.
Today, there are more than 80,000 education apps available for download through Apple’s App Store; 72 percent of those are aimed at toddlers and preschoolers. But while parents and app developers have obviously embraced the tech education revolution, the link between technology and educational performance is murky at best.
Technology can help save the planet…
The World Bank estimates that climate change may push more than 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030.
Of course, technology has played a role in our current predicament. The shale revolution—which at its core is a technological revolution—has given a new lease on life to the oil and gas era. That may be good for falling oil prices, but it’s horrible for our environment.
But what makes the difference is that the global economy grew by 3 percent in 2014 while world emissions remained flat.
People are not willing to fundamentally change their lives for problems far off in the future, even ones as potentially catastrophic as climate change. To avoid the worst effects of climate change, alternative energies need to become as cheap and reliable as their carbon-emitting counterparts, and quickly.
Cheaper alternative energy is the best hope the world has left.
Technology has also created a whole new set of global security concerns.
The thoroughly modern phenomenon of cybercrime and economic espionage is estimated to cost the world more than $445 billion every year. That’s roughly 1 percent of global income. And while it hasn’t happened yet, the fear that cyber attacks can spill over and trigger real-world conflicts remains an ongoing concern.
Technology has also changed the face of modern warfare. A decade ago, the Pentagon had a stockpile of fewer than 50 drones; today it has an arsenal of about 7,000. The Pentagon estimates that China will build nearly 42,000 drones by 2023. Others will follow suit. Yet another possible complication.
But the most worrisome development?
Technology has given terrorist groups like ISIS an unparalleled platform to spread their messages of hate. The knowledge needed to build bombs in the comfort of your own home is now just a few short clicks away. Technology is capable of empowering every single individual in the world, even the worst of us.
Finance and the world economy.
It is quite obvious that money in the form of cash is going to disappear.
World stock market is now run by high-frequency trading algorithms. Personal credit lines are governed by algorithms. World trade is reverting to protectionism. Inequality is widening.
We are all talking on our cell phones. Public spaces aren’t communal anymore. No one interacts in public spaces.
On the other hand, access to the wealth of information and opinion available on the internet is exposing people of all ages to views, lifestyles, and knowledge they might never have encountered otherwise, potentially generating greater compassion and understanding both within local communities and for people on the other side of the world.
In the next few years, virtual reality could offer a further means of breaking down geographic and social barriers.
Project Syria, for instance, uses virtual-reality goggles to place people inside the meticulously researched world of a Syrian citizen caught in the Syrian conflict, cutting through the ‘empathy fatigue’ often brought about by constant access to global news.
THEN THERE IS:
WHAT LAWS SHOULD APPLY TO AI.
SHOULD THEIR CREATORS BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR ITS ACTIONS?
An AI programme could be an innocent agent with either the software programmer or the user being held to be the perpetrator-vi another.
Does the programmer know that if the machine is used in a certain way that a certain outcome is inevitable?
Who or what should be punished if for an offense of which an AI system is directly liable.
Is Ai a service or a product. The legal implications will be profound.
Nothing is private any longer. Whether you like it or not everything is data.
Should AI platforms Pay us for the Data?
There is no longer a source of Facts. Campaigns to manipulate public opinion through false or misleading social media postings have become standard political practice across much of the world.
Exploiting every social media platform — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and beyond — and relying on human users and computerized “bots” that can dramatically amplify the power of disinformation campaigns by automating the process of preparing and delivering posts. Bots interact with human users and also with other bots. They generate so much content — and they share each other’s content — that it’s hard to disaggregate the networks.
The impact goes beyond electoral politics to hot-button issues such as climate change and the safety of vaccines.
So should we put aside these value judgments and focus on how technology will simply make the world different going forward. 65 percent of children entering primary school today will end up working in jobs that don’t even exist yet. Our time is better spent figuring out how to live in this new world rather than lamenting the old one.
Unfortunately, by the time we get around to waking up to Algorithms, we will be owned by one.
History also advises that the measures taken must be developed through close consultation between governments, private sector experts, and stakeholders and citizens. Experience with previous technologies suggests that prudent policies can help us effectively manage the risks associated with new technologies without harm to their benefits. But can we say that this is honestly true with Algorithms that are learning from each other or driven by profit, filtering platforms in order to supply personalized information?
The result is having corrosive effects across the whole political arena worldwide.
Whether you are techno-utopians or techno-skeptics technology is changing our lives and the world we all live in and on IN MORE WAYS THAN WE YET OR WILL EVER BE CAPABLE OF COMPREHENDiING.
This is why I advocate a strong room for technology. Where all software is stored and available to all. (See the previous post)
If we are not careful the very thing that we all cherish Freedom will become the sole prerogative of the Algorithms world OF APPLE, MICROSOFT, FACEBOOK, TWITTER, AND THEIR LIKE.
All human comments appreciated. All like clicks chucked in the bin.
What was still missing from the research, he decided, was historical perspective.