Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has weighed into the debate about how future technology may interact with humans, noting his belief that “technology's function is to serve humanity.”
Speaking at a small business forum hosted by Google, Turnbull outlined why he believed humans would stay in control of the technology they created.
“It's created by us, by humans, and its function is to serve us,” he said.
He said the most successful internet applications, for example, were ones that best responded “to innate human characteristics.”
That was why the “walled gardens” of 1990s internet failed to take hold, he argued, because they didn’t function to meet humans’ need for choice.
“So the technology is responding to us,” Turnbull said.
He believed this was also the reason why social media applications had taken off in such a big way.
“We have a natural human desire to be social and so what are the applications that are most successful today? It is social media,” Turnbull argued.
“I think the technology is, if you like, rather than denying our natural characteristics as humans, it is expanding them and amplifying them.
“The applications that are most successful and the businesses that will be most successful are those that respond to those basic needs of human beings.”
Much debate in Australia over the past year has centred on the idea that technology will stop serving humanity and instead start to take over some of the things that humans do.
A recent future of work report, Tomorrow’s Digitally Enabled Workforce – which was co-authored by the ACS – estimated 44 percent of jobs in Australia “are potentially at high risk of computerisation and automation”.
“The explosion in device connectivity, data volumes and computing speed, combined with rapid advances in automated systems and artificial intelligence means that robotic devices can perform many tasks more quickly, safely and efficiently than humans,” the report found.
“[But] many new jobs will also be created by technology.
“We are entering a period of rapid transition”.
However, it is unclear at present where some opportunities could lie, and some of the report’s co-authors and contributors saw that as a risk to Australia’s future prosperity, Information Age reported.
The ultimate test of the interaction of humankind and technology is in the concept of singularity – which describes a time when artificially-intelligent (AI) systems are so powerful that they create a world too strange for humans to understand.
Some futurists believe this could occur in as little as 30 years, however the concept is highly debatable, not least because AI has developed at a much slower pace than initially anticipated.
Sci-fi author Ramez Naam more or less backed Turnbull’s belief at a conference in the United States last year.
“I think we’re heading for a world of incredible intelligence all around us, but that is serving us and enriching our lives – mostly,” Naam said.