Any essay making predictions for the new year will inevitably discuss the potential of new technology.
Because it's exciting:
The power of blockchain, VR/AR, AI & machine learning, etc is astounding and takes imaginative force to appreciate the disruptive impact each will have across multiple industries.
Of course, there will be unintended consequences that we should try to anticipate as best we can as well as new ethical groundwork we need to lay down, but overall we do not need to be afraid.
Technology has more potential to help than to hurt:
Blockchain will allow for truly public and easily verifiable record keeping in a decentralized manner that allows for greater transparency and a more concise supply chain (fewer middlemen). Mainstream adoption is coming in 2018 which is good news for democracy and business both.
AI (Artificial Intelligence) & Machine Learning are areas that most lay people associate with Terminator technology. The truth is, any human organization can lose control of its very human membership (see the case of Youtube celebrity Logan Paul this week), so we don't need artificially intelligent robots around to convince us of that fearful reality. That said, machines generally learn what we teach them, and at the moment they are best at processing information at very fast speeds, freeing up humans to do more of the hard work of creative thinking. Already, machines do a lot of dangerous factory labor jobs - and we're not so much complaining about that as we are desperate for more humans to be trained how to manage the machines. In other words, don't be afraid of Machine Learning; start learning more yourself!
VR/AR (Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality) is slowly becoming less of an arcade gimmick and more of a practical way to create location-agnostic immersive experiences. Pokemon Go was a great example of 1. how quickly humans can adapt to new experiences and technology and 2. how important it is to anticipate unintended consequences and related ethical issues when developing new technology. (for instance, the often addictive nature of new tech that is intentionally designed into the application)
Technology should serve human needs not subvert them.
We have no reason to be afraid or reluctant to adopt new technology if we keep this principle in mind.
Sometimes, however, people creating or consuming technology forget the purpose of technology, to begin with,>> Which is why a strong concern of mine for 2018, a resolution if you will, is to be more deliberately human.
Self-care through daily exercise and meditation, as well as a deliberate use of technology (not checking my phone/email after 10 pm or before 7 am, for instance: gotta give the mind & body a rest)!
Technology can perpetuate our worst biases and assumptions through the algorithms that humans design. UNLESS we deliberately widen who participates in the creation, financing, and testing of new technology, we will be no better off than were our ancestors in the Dark Ages. Diversity & Inclusion when properly implemented solves this and many other problems. An inclusive work culture is not only good because it is kind, it is also good for profits & revenue, good for productivity & creativity, good for the economy as a whole, and good for you - for everyone - because we have been or will be all marginalized at some point. Unless we are inclusive.
To be human also means to me in 2018 to have deeper empathy, to listen better (to others' needs and to others' feedback), and to ask good questions.
Meeting in person seems like a no-brainer, but in a world where we are increasingly incentivized to be on our phones or laptops 24/7, it needs to be said: Be deliberate about meeting people face-to-face.
An upcoming opportunity to meet in person and practice our common humanity: I'm facilitating a conversation on Tuesday, January 16th on Diversity & the Future of Work. Would love for you to be there! (Tickets are FREE.) We're better together.
That's some of what I expect to see happen and some of what I plan to make happen in 2018.
What will your new year be about?
A person’s primary task shouldn’t be computing – it should be being a human. Technology has to work alongside us rather than take over our lives.