Episode 3: Man X Machine

Episode 3:

The Next Generation - Man X Machine

How will machine intelligence unfold?

Artificial Intelligence is upon us. The capabilities of algorithms increasingly presents business communities with the opportunity to automate, compute and drive cost savings. 

The development of digital, automation, and AI technologies is arguably a potent force for socioeconomic change. Labor markets will be disrupted, with many tasks being replaced by machines.  In manufacturing and manual labour, robotic systems have already for many years steadily improved process efficiencies.

Should we be fearful?

There is widespread fear that job opportunities may be more limited in the future as technologies substitute a broader range of human activities. Our partner McKinsey & Company has reported a $5 to $7 trillion opportunity for automating low level “knowledge work” tasks like taking customer support calls.

Some believe smart robots may also quickly serve as the new high value service providers, such as child-carers and cultural shapers of tomorrow’s society.

Andreas Ziltener, Professor of Entrepreneurial Management, University of Applied Sciences Chur, states that the combination of robotics and AI is still an area for academic research, rather than commercialization.

Whilst the consumer adoption of AI systems has been relatively high, with algorithmic systems like Amazon’s Alexa connected AI and Netflix’s machine learning recommender engine permeating our daily lives, achieving the mechanical transformation of complex physical processes will remain a high barrier to entry for AI-powered robotics.

Accidental Cyborgs

In addition to the man versus machine discussion, what appears to be emerging is the combination of man and machines – whereby we use advanced technology to enhance our own competencies.  

There is an emerging universe of AI and sensor-enabled health devices that enable sharper hearing and sight, prosthetic limbs, lab-grown organs.

In fact,the integration of pacemakers for cardiovascular disease patients has been mainstream for over 20 years.

What comes next, such as neuro-controlled exoskeletons for the mobility-impaired or synthetic organ transplants are just evolutions of technology that will be readily accepted and adopted by those who want to extend and improve their quality of life.

With populations in developed nations aging at a higher rate than reproduction, the opportunity for digital healthcare to prevent illness and prolong life is immense.

As such, the potential to live forever is becoming closer to reality – but then we will have a whole new set of problems as our species’ strain on the environment is already threatening the natural resources for the next generation.

Playing God

The urgent need for clear man-machine ethics is amplified by the view that we should probably no longer be concerned whether technology can actually do something, but whether it should do something, and why.

Who will be able to  afford or should have access to  life-enhancing and -prolonging treatments? What would be the limits?

We invite you to bring your thoughts and questions for discussion to WORLDWEBFORUM 2019, where AI experts Nicolas Economou, Michael Chui and Shane Luke will deliver keynotes on the main stage.