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The rise of the humans starts here…

By Guest blogger, David Coplin, Chief Envisioning Officer, Microsoft
11-May-2015 15:57:00

david-coplinA few months ago, researchers at Harvard University, announced the results of an incredible project that enables computers to understand human thought, albeit at a very rudimentary level (the computer was able to understand a single word when the human thought of it).

Minutes after the announcement, the tech news was filled with the dystopian visions of digital mind-control and telepathy and before you knew it we were locked back into a conversation that is essentially about the battle for power between humans and machines and how should be wary of our new digital overlords.

The world of technology is going to present more and more challenges to our workforce, as it becomes more powerful it will drive further disruption. This is a world where, when fed with enough data, the algorithms will be answering our emails, planning our projects and more of our working tasks will be automated such that we can sit back on our ample backsides and bask in the glory of all that we have created.  It’s usually at this point, someone hits the big red button labelled “panic” and we all start worrying about our jobs because after all, the computers can do all this stuff better than us can’t they?

But, before the knowledge workers of the world rise up and form their own Luddite rebellion (how ironic would that be?) we’ve just got to remember that by getting the machines to do more work, more of the heavy lifting, we should be pushing ourselves to make better use of that platform to extend ourselves further.

We need to remember that computers, algorithms and the data that feeds them are here to help. The success of our future society will depend entirely on our ability to grasp the potential they offer us and for us to avoid, where possible, simply replicating old ways of working. As a result, our aspiration should be to do things differently, not the same things slightly better.

If we get this right, we humans won’t have to be in awe of the machines; instead, we will stand high and proud on the shoulders of these mechanical giants and accomplish truly amazing things. The time for us to make this happen is now. The rise of the humans has already started – and the world will never be the same again.