A wake-up call from the future

13 February 2019

Social Media

Welcome to 2019

Everyone remembers the technology from their youth, in my case the 80’s and 90’s. I grew up with mobile phones becoming a must have commodity, with the accompanying generation of speed texters. I also grew up with the emergence of the first affordable home PC, allowing me and my friends the opportunity to explore that new ‘thing’ called the internet. It seems like only yesterday that my modem took forever to dial in, choices in websites were limited, and Facebook was non-existent (founded in 2004).

Technology really started to move and in 2007, as we saw something that would change the world, our lives, our society and the very fabric of our economy: IPhone, the first of the real smart phones was launched. Since then smartphones have become faster, more connected, and PC’s have almost disappeared with the emergence of laptops and tablets. The Internet is running faster than ever, and we’ve come to a point where a slow internet connection, or not being connected at all, is considered a major catastrophe.

The present future

Today it’s our turn to keep up, when we see Gen Z us using several social media platforms at the same time. Texting has become ‘old’ and writing an email has become the equivalent of posting a paper letter. Social and communication platforms like WhatsApp and Twitter are integrating into our workplace.

Children today are likely to own (or have access to) a tablet and the internet from a very young age.If you give a 5-year-old a book, it’s becoming more common to watch them trying to enlarge pictures or move to the next page by swiping.Hilarious as this may be, it’s also a heads-up that the future is here, and that new technologies will have the same impact on their lives as it did on ours.Now it’s our turn to try and keep up.

Machines owning the future

The biggest change will be in the acceptance of interacting with digital platforms and machines as the new normal.Machines are disrupting our educational system – leaving us with the need to learn new skills. Knowledge will belong to machines, speeds will belong to machines and eventually fast thinking and deducting conclusions will belong to machines. That leaves us humans with choices to make. And we need to make them fast. Taking everything into consideration, the options are simple: we won’t need the same number of humans to run things (to run businesses, grow economies, invest & trade, develop new medicine,...) Jobs that require manpower today will most likely require fewer people in the future. Amongst these jobs we can also count all administrative processes, payroll calculations, simple HR tasks and HR administration. Production roles will make a so-called bundle split – on one side there will be fully automated production (like 3D printing) or on the other side, there will be highly valued “made by humans”. Soon, there will be a shift change, with value placed on reconnecting to nature, and reconnecting to each other – offline.

What we do need to think about is how we can make our humanity sustainable, how do we stand apart from all these high-tech disruptions.Especially when in 20 years it will be perfectly normal to be surrounded by robots, talk to AI interfaces, sit in your self-driving car, have IoT implants or add on devices, …

What makes us human is our emotional system, creative and deeper thinking.Although eventually we could teach machines to do this, by deep learning protocols and AI, we should not be feeling bad about keeping that one to ourselves. From in a broader perspective, we do what we humans always do - as soon as technology allows us to explore, we explore. Like Carl Sagan once said ‘we are wonderers.

So, the time might come sooner than we think, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

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