It’s being roughly two weeks since the WebSummit 2017 took Lisbon by storm. Nevertheless there are some thoughts that still lingers on my mind after this time. Here are some conclusions after three days of a pure people&tech experience.
Humanity is in a crossroads. We must decide and take action on whether to use current and near future advancements on technology as an ally to our day-to-day chores, or defer important decisions on regulations, let it run and grow freely and eventually, let it rule us – a vision similar to the apocalyptic world of Terminator. When put in this terms, it appears to be too much of an exaggeration – but it was actually brought up by some speakers during the conferences.
We are still far away from either of those scenarios. There is still a lot of work to do, a lot of gaps to fill and a lot of changes that still need to happen before we arrive to that promised future. Yet, we have never been so close. And though our concept of technology has changed as it evolved, never before have we had so many technological advancements in so many fields happening at the same time. As Al Gore referenced, change is happening in front of us, and it has the magnitude of the industrial revolution, but at much higher speed; with developers as enablers and catalysts – similar to workers of the industrial revolution. Experts say this trend will continue to grow at the same rate, or faster.
Looking roughly 35, maybe 40 years in the future, we will see all manual work be done by machines. This means that a lot of jobs will be gone, but it also means that there will be more time available for people to dedicate to undertakings machines are not able to do. It will also mean new necessities will arise and thus, the way we approach our daily routines will change as a consequence. As Guy Standing said: In the future, people won’t have just a stream of work, but will be having different jobs focusing on what they want, using technology as an enabler.
Some topics of innovation displayed on the summit included transportation tending to autonomous driving, centralized vehicle routing for traffic optimization and of course, Uber’s flying cars; retail enhanced through machine learning and virtual and augmented reality; health treatments improved using mini-robots and new research technologies; and sustainability through the development of better batteries and other gadgets using IoT, aiming to control and reduce our impact on Earth and climate change. These are all basic needs that we have on our daily lives, but the way we approach them is just evolving to have more connected, collaborative and sustainable societies.
Technology is an enabler for us to close the gaps between problems and solutions, and also help us find new solutions for our old problems. We must embrace change and welcome the opportunities that comes with digital transformation. As Heraclitus said long ago: Change is the only constant.
By Victoria Bello