Editor’s Note: Dave Coplin is Chief Envisioning Officer at Microsoft UK. He is the author of ‘Business Reimagined: Why work isn’t working and what you can do about it’ and ‘The Rise of the Humans: How to outsmart the digital deluge.’ The views expressed are entirely those of the author alone.
The world of technology is going to present an increasing number of challenges to our workforce
We need to remember that computers, algorithms and the data that feeds them are here to help
A few months ago, researchers at Harvard University, announced the results of an incredible project that enables computers to understand human thought, albeit at a very rudimentary level (the computer was able to understand a single word when the human thought of it).
The battle for power between humans and machines
Minutes after the announcement, the technology news was filled with the dystopian visions of digital mind-control and telepathy. Before you knew it we were locked back into a conversation that is essentially about the battle for power between humans and machines and how we should be wary of our new digital overlords.
The world of technology is going to present an increasing number of challenges to our workforce. As it becomes more powerful it will inevitably drive further disruption.
This is a world where, when fed with enough data, the algorithms will be answering our emails, planning our projects and more of our working tasks will be automated so that we can sit back on our ample backsides and bask in the glory of all that we have created.
It’s usually at this point, someone hits the big red “panic” button and we all start worrying about our future job security because after all, the computers can do all this stuff better than us, can’t they?
But, before the knowledge workers of the world rise up and form their own Luddite rebellion, we’ve got to remember that by getting the machines to do more work, more of the heavy lifting, we should be pushing ourselves to make better use of that platform to extend ourselves even further.
We need to remember that computers, algorithms and the data that feeds them are here to help. The success of our future society will depend entirely on our ability to grasp the potential they offer us and for us to avoid, where possible, simply replicating old ways of working. As a result, our aspiration should be to do things differently, not the same things slightly better.
The rise of the humans has started
If we get this right, humans won’t have to be in awe of the machines; instead, we will stand high and proud on the shoulders of these mechanical giants and accomplish truly amazing things. The time for us to make this happen is now. The rise of the humans has already started – and the world will never be the same again.
Dave Coplin delivered this speech to the Saïd Business School’s Silicon Valley Comes to Oxford (SVCO) forum, which is focused on creating and sharing actionable insight on how to start, scale, and run innovative technology companies.