As a human with limited ability, I was critical of technology and its increasing influence on our lives. I thought about how obsessed kids at school are with their their iPhones. I thought about accountants, data collectors, and all sorts of jobs that have been replaced with technology. I dreaded the time when technology would take over the world.
But as I sat and watched the Olympics, several commercials ended up changing my mind.
For the first time I saw the pros of technology, and my entire view on computers changed. Technology isn’t bad; it’s helped our world and our people in so many ways.
The commercial that stood out to me the most advertised the advancement of technology and its potential. I saw children who had lost their limbs walk, the deaf hear, and the blind see.
With advancements in medical treatments, food production and global preservation, technology’s potential is infinite and amazing.
With this potential for advancement, you are forced to analyze what part humans will play in the future, if any role at all. Are there any characteristics that technology is unable to duplicate?
Gary Kasparov, Russian chess master, was paired with a computer and played a game with another human-computer team. The result was that while the computer could process all potential moves, it was the human who was required to make a decision.
A computer recognizes potential risks but is unable to make a decision between the lesser of two evils. Technology lacks all forms of compassion and creativity. Regardless of how able and helping they are, they are still cold, hard machines.
Humans, on the other hand, are known for their weaknesses and being blinded by emotion. We have a mind that experiences and feelings. That’s what makes us human.
One of these feelings is competitiveness. A computer may win a game of chess, but they don’t have any reason to do so, besides being programmed. It is only a human who has that desire and competitiveness to win the game.
Keeping up with the recent olympic spirit, these athletes experience excitement, anxiety, and adrenaline. These are all factors initiated by their environment and affect their performance.
Another trait exclusive to humans is curiosity. The invention process requires drive and the need to know. A computer can grow and gain information, but they are still restricted to what they know. A computer does not have the ability to answer a question that requires applying its collected knowledge in order to form a completely new answer.
This process is called creativity. The ability to take what you know and make something completely new. That originality is a power forever protected by the human mind.
The most important characteristic of humans is one you encounter every time you try to call the AT&T guys. Or the insurance people. Customer service.
The robotic voices are the source of a majority of America’s frustration. Last weekend I witnessed my father repeatedly yelling ‘one’ into the phone, waiting for the robot to comprehend his selection. He got up for only a few seconds to get a glass of milk when finally the robot managed to find the correct department to take his call.
In Australia, 1,012 people were surveyed, and 39% said that their interactions with customer service were not up to par. 73% of the surveyors were willing to pay more for better service that robots can not provide.
Humans have the compassion and efficiency that robots lack. If you’re frustrated, a human can tell. If you have a time limit, only a human can tell. All businesses that ever interact over the phone would benefit if their customers were able to talk to actual people.
The growth of technology has and will continue to ease our lifestyle, but proper human development will always require human interaction. Machines and robots can only go so far when it comes to creativity and originality.
So don’t make the same mistake I did; don’t be skeptical of technology and what it can do. Instead, appreciate its ability and learn to evolve with it.