This year I went again to the DLD – Digital Life Design conference in Munich. This invitation-only event brings together 1000 of the industry’s top leaders every year, such as Satya Nadella CEO of Microsoft, to discuss the future.
Several of the major trends that will mark the coming years were discussed:
Today’s education is out of date and has to be changed. Among the main topics were how we should educate the new generations for an age of artificial intelligence and how to change the learning process in classrooms with new technologies.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning
There is clearly a boom, opinions differ, while some say we are very advanced, others say we are still in the early stages. However, solutions and products are already taking over several industries.
The technology exists, now it’s a matter of improving it. The main themes are again moving from technology to questions like “What happens if the car, faced with the inevitability of having an accident, has to choose between crashing into a child or crashing into two elderly people? “How do cities and roads change?”.
Trump was a must-read topic, but more interesting than discussing what you do or fail to do, the discussion was with the person responsible for part of the campaign and how they got the results through data analysis.
All these topics are relevant, yet something caught my attention. Although the conference was more intense and entertaining than the previous year, the tone has changed considerably. From a great enthusiasm about the future began to emerge the big impacts that are to come and how to prepare for them. The main themes of the digital and technology sector are no longer technical. Today’s major challenges are ethical, political, and social.
What to do if automation can cause up to 60% unemployment in the next 20 years (Uber and cars with automatic pilot??). There is talk of the singularity, the moment when the “machines” will catch up to human intelligence in the next 3 to 4 decades. How do we deal with beings more intelligent than us? Doing gene editing with CRISPR is relatively easy and can bring many benefits, but at the same time it allows “custom-made babies” something not unlike what Hitler tried to do with the Aryan race.
The environment seems to have degraded in several places irreversibly and cyber security issues are worse. Alarmist?… several of the world’s richest and most successful men are staking everything on colonizing new planets (Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson among others). The world has also never been so connected, but at the same time, we have governments that want to regionalize and that can’t even legislate Uber.
When we asked several speakers, among the brightest minds in the world, who presented us with a data world and who presented us with data, the reason why things are bad, “what is the solution?” Most of them answer that they don’t know, but that they are optimistic and that things will work out. When scientists start to resort to faith as a solution, something begins to worry me a lot.
More than praying and being optimistic it is time to bring these issues into real society and take responsibility for the future.