I have to admit: in some ways, the concept of the driverless car appeals to me. When it comes to parking, I’m among the world’s worst (as my son frequently teases me), so I was already intrigued by automatic-parking technologies. And I’ve read about the self-driving cars from Google, but still… to think through the implications of fully autonomous vehicles “is enough to make your head spin,” as Stevie Zvereva writes in our lead story this issue.
As with all technologies, the promised benefits are many, but so are the potential downsides. Just as the use of robots has revolutionized manufacturing, healthcare and supply chain management, so will the self-driving car transform transportation—and many other related industries. Are we prepared for this upheaval? I have my doubts, but that’s unlikely to matter much. The technology is already here.
For me, technology has become a necessary evil. While intended to enhance our lives and make us more productive, it can also be controlling, making us feel like we’re slaves to our devices. As humans, only we can find the balance in our lives to use technology for good—but it’s not always easy.
The most promising application of artificial intelligence “is not replacing workers, but augmenting their capabilities.” Deloitte calls it “amplified intelligence,” and it’s working its way into just about every industry through advanced analytics, predictive modeling and “big data.” Caterpillar’s recently-announced partnership with the analytics firm Uptake is just one example. The goal is to predict the need for repair or replacement before a machine develops a critical issue.
From the wheel and the written word to the airplane and the personal computer, the augmentation of human capabilities lies at the very core of technology—and those who can leverage their amplified capabilities are sure to find success. At the same time, humans will continue to excel at context, culture and creativity… things that can’t easily be written into code and automated by a machine.
In this age of social media and instantaneous news, I was reminded again of how quickly a story can develop. When I first learned of Congressman Schock’s resignation, just a single online news outlet had the story—yet, (so I’m told) it was already “blowing up” on Twitter. In less than 24 hours, a special election was in the works, and one person had already announced his candidacy. How quickly the world turns upside down! By this time next year, I may even have mastered the art of parallel parking… iBi