THE FUTURE OF TECHNOLOGY WITH GERD LEONHARD

The Future of Technology with Gerd Leonhard 

Technology has the power to do many things, and designing the future is one of them. 

It’s not news that automation is changing the way we go about our daily lives. From the humble mobile phone to the smartwatch, we are completely indebted to technology. With information at our fingertips at all hours of the day, it’s hard to imagine what comes next. 

But the technology we’re now accustomed to is paving the way for further innovations to completely reshape modern life. 

So what does the future hold? Mike sat down with global futurist Gerd Leonhard to find out. 

Who is Gerd Leonhard? 

Gerd Leonhard is a world-leading futurist, author, musician and digital entrepreneur living in Zurich, Switzerland.

Gerd’s speciality is the debate between humanity and technology, He believes that technological progress should enhance our humanity, not strip it from us. In 2016, he published Technology vs Humanity, which dissects the relationship between these two superpowers. It was considered a must-read for anyone who takes being human for granted,(which is probably all of us), and flipped the script on the future of work, AI and digital ethics.

As Gerd likes to say, ““We should embrace technology but not become technology.”

When Mike met Gerd 

Mike had been considering the virtue of the red pill vs the blue pill (forever a fan of The Matrix franchise), so he flew to Zurich to visit Gerd Leonhard and ponder the big questions. 

Mike asked Gerd, “So, you have a book called, “Technology vs. Humanity.” Who’s going to win?”

And

“What are the main technological trends that are happening right now that are going to change the world over the next five to eight years?”

In this conversation, you’ll learn all about the blurring line between human and machine because it seems technology will completely change our world in the not too distant future. 

3 hour work day, anyone? 

What are the main trends for the future of technology? 

In as little as five years from now, Gerd predicts that everything will be connected. And not just through social media. He’s taking about devices, houses, cars, wrist watches, suits. Absolutely everything will be synched. What’s more, he says networks like 4G, LTE and WiMax will only get smarter and more pervasive, which means data input will soon be unlimited. A computer’s ability to read this data will only accelerate too – meaning in 10 years, machines might be able to change the traffic or fly an aeroplane. 

So in the future, the intelligence of a machine could be similar to a human’s? 

Gerd maintains that even though a computer can calculate a million times faster than a person, it’s unlikely that they will ever develop our social and emotional intelligence. Which is why they will never become a substitute for a human, even if they do have a higher IQ. Processing trillions of data feeds per second certainly makes them ‘superior’ in one sense, but our ability to comprehend social cues is what sets us apart. 

Essentially, if it’s not data, Gerd says a machine won’t see it. 

Does that mean we’ll never strike up a friendship with a robot?  

Gerd does maintain a machine’s potential to ‘act’ like a human, or simulate them in some way, is progressing. We only have to look at our phones or inside our own houses to see what he means. Virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa and Google Home often confuse the distinction between person and robot. But Gerd says we must remain mindful that these talking devices are not humans. They are machines designed to respond to the data we feed them. 

He draws on the film Her as an example of what can happen when we think of machines as if they are somewhat like us, or even as our ‘friends’. 

In Her, the protagonist falls for an operating system he calls Samantha. The movie follows the developing ‘relationship’ between the pair until Samantha confesses that she has about 3,500 other lovers. Because Samantha doesn’t have a body, she is simply a very intelligent machine. 

Could a robot take my job though? 

According to Gerd, robots will take our routines but not our work. Of course, if your job is entirely routine, such as driving a truck or operating a forklift, you will likely be replaced by artificial intelligence. He says these types of roles will be phased out over the next 5 – 15 years. 

But it’s not all bad news. Losing our routines actually opens up more space for us to use our uniquely ‘human’ skills more thoughtfully – like empathy, negotiation and creativity.

And machines will even allow us to work less but still earn the same salary! Gerd estimates that in 20 – 30 years, we might only need to work 2-3 hours each day thanks to help from machines.   

He also says that this will change the way we think about money too, because we won’t be focused on working more to earn more. Instead, we’ll use our time to pursue personal goals, such as writing a book or taking care of relatives. 

We know what you’re thinking. Does this mean the future of technology could bring about the end of capitalism? That’s exactly what Gerd predicts too. 

Where to from here? 

This conversation between Mike and Gerd is packed full of visions for the future of technology, work, relationships and so much more. If you’re a human living in the modern world this is a discussion you can’t afford to miss. 

You can see the episode right here on this page, or if you like to listen or want to hear the extended interview,  you can jump over to the Futurists.World podcast.

And be sure to subscribe on YouTube and sign up so you don’t miss any episodes in future.

Thanks again for joining us. The Future is Out There!

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