By Cyndee Miller
Like most people, I am equally super excited and super terrified by technology. I do enjoy the idea of some adorable robotic creature handling all my mundane tasks. Yet I really don’t care for the idea of Alexa tracking my moves and monitoring my conversations.
But between chatbots and self-driving cars, this is the year where there’s no turning back on tech disruption. Why?
“Everything is data, data is everywhere,” said tech pioneer Inma Martinez, the closing keynoter at EMEA Global Congress.
And that comes alongside the rise of deep learning, the terrifying tech that aims to mimic the human brain. Again, equal parts super exciting, super terrifying.
So will project and program managers be replaced by a supercomputer? Will the machines eventually turn against us?
Machines will never be able to beat humans at understanding right from wrong.
“This is where deep learning fails and fails and fails,” Ms. Martinez said. “It goes into bias and bias and bias. And this is why people in the scientific community like myself are willing to say please stop doing this. You still want the humans to use their wonderful brain to make that decision.”
Instead, we should use data to tackle the big issues, like mental health and the mass migration to cities. “We’re all going to end up living in massive urban centers,” says Ms. Martinez, and data can transform them into truly smart cities.
Ms. Martinez called out Boston, Massachusetts, USA as a prime example. Why? Because the mayor decided a few years ago to make city data accessible to all—allowing any user to check out how services in Boston are faring.
“Because the data is shared across the board, citizens are engaged,” Ms. Martinez said. And armed with that data, the mayor could force companies like Uber to treat all the city’s denizens equally.
“They started to analyze how long you have to wait in a low-income area—and sometimes it’s like 20 to 25 minutes,” Ms. Martinez said. “So the mayor said, ‘You want to operate in Boston? You need to send Ubers to the people, all types of people.’ This is data in service of the people.”
That change will also drive a shift to humans acting, like, well, humans.
“Human life will seek sensorial stimuli, information disclosure and self-empowerment.”
Hmmm. Maybe I need to rethink—that doesn’t sound even vaguely terrifying.
It's auf wiedersehen for now. This human is off to explore more of the city's projects (and sneak in a David Bowie walking tour). But then I suppose I'll have my voice assistant friend book time for next year's congress in Dublin on 13 to 15 May.
What about you? How are you feeling about the robot revolution?