Far from making humans and certain businesses redundant, a leading drone expert says technology is allowing us to be more human than ever before.
Speaking as part of the Vivid Ideas Exchange in Sydney, Dr Catherine Ball – founder of World of Drones Congress – said that technology is not replacing humans at all. Instead, computers and automation are removing human responsibility for menial tasks to free up more time for human interactions, such as customer relations.
“The thing that people worry about with the fourth industrial revolution is that we are all going to be at the mercy of robot overlords. I’ve never subscribed to that,” said Dr Ball.
“When Garry Kasparov, the chess player, was beaten by the IBM computer Deep Blue back in the 1980s, the only reason it beat him was because he played with it – if he hadn’t played with it, he never would have taught it his tricks.”
Rather than taking away jobs and making particular services businesses redundant, Dr Ball said technology is actually enabling more focus to be placed on interactions between people.
“If there’s one thing that I know about computers, it’s that they are great at doing what computers are supposed to do. So where humans are bad at monotonous, boring tasks, computers are great. But there’s something that computers and AI – even now – can’t do, and that is be human,” she said.
“For me robotics and autonomous or intelligent vehicles, or autonomous and intelligent machine learning, is going to allow us to be more human; if we don’t have to do the dull, monotonous tasks, we can spend more time checking in with [people].”
Dr Ball also said that rather than be complacent and await technological advancements to disrupt your business and your life, everyone should be proactively engaging with new technologies to set the agenda and allow it to meet real-world needs.
“[For example] drone technology is about to do a flip … In 1982-83, when IBM started bringing out the first office computers, it was the time at which computers went from being games to being serious things. And drones are about at that now,” she said, noting the use of drones in such diverse areas as monitoring the Great Barrier Reef, delivering blood supplies in Rwanda and assessing damage to infrastructure following Cyclone Debbie.
“We really need to take advantage of this technology, rather than wait for the next computer program or wait for the next software application or wait for the next drone to be developed. We need to start developing what we want to do with it.”