Technology is destroying the world. It can also save it.

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In his excellent book Reprogramming the American Dream Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott writes “the same thing that can advance humanity can also cause people distress and even harm.”  He cites previous examples of technology upheaval (e.g. the Industrial Revolution) and the unintended harms they created (e.g. pollution).

We are living in a similar time of upheaval.  The internet, smart phones, personalization and predictive technologies – all were supposed to enhance the quality of human life in magnificent ways.  Instead, they have amplified the cacophony of anger, narcissism, and misinformation that passes for human interaction today.  Artificial Intelligence was supposed to elevate us above menial and/or soul-destroying tasks; instead it has become a political tool used to provoke fear regarding the loss of jobs, privacy, and safety.

The dream remains real.  As the world hit the pause button for two years to wrestle with a global pandemic, technology has continued to soldier on and drive extraordinary change.  We accelerated the development of a full scale response to a novel global challenge.  Seemingly overnight we figured out how to work in virtual environments powered by collaboration technology.  And in the never-ending battle between hacker and financial institutions with offices closed and people working from home, banks have taken major steps forward in fraud detection and prevention powered by AI.

It is ironic that the technologies most responsible for the mood of today’s world are also best positioned to improve it. Personalization technologies and the companies that fund them must take into account that a world based on the quantity of engagement as opposed to the quality of it is destined to be one at conflict, and that opposing views (the basis of the global push for diversity) are fundamentally healthy for all of us. AI must be programmed to enhance human life as opposed to imitating it. And we technologists must understand that we are still in the driver’s seat when it comes to how technology is deployed in today’s world, making ethical programming all the more important.

Read our excellent report on AI and ethics here.

Joo Serk Lee

About

Joo Serk Lee is a Vice President in Sogeti USA and serves as Sogeti USA’s Digital Transformation service line leader. He in an Enterprise Architect by trade and has spent much of his 15 year career partnering with clients to craft major digital and technology transformation programs in sectors including Marketing and Insurance.

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