While the title of his latest book 'Technology vs. Humanity 'expects a battle between man and robot, futurist Gerd Leonhard's vision for the future is surprisingly optimistic.

The pessimistic title of his book appears to have been adopted by the publishing house. Leonhard himself had 'vs.' rather replace with the common 'and'. Because where others quickly think of the dangers of Artificial Intelligence, Leonhard sees the possibilities that technology can offer for society. He speaks about humanity and technology during the Dutch Future Society and indicates that we are at the turning point of the exponential growth in technological developments. In the next ten years, artificial intelligence will surpass human intelligence. Man, and the machine will continue to integrate to improve human functions. This includes personal assistants implanted in the brain and fully functioning artificial organs and prostheses.

With all these developments, we will increasingly rely on technology in everyday life, something that is already clearly visible in society. We no longer flirt in the pub but use an app to meet new people. We don't write anything down ourselves but dictate the message on our phone. And we no longer navigate to our destination ourselves but use an app to find our way. If we don't maintain these skills, we may not be able to flirt, write or navigate in a while.

Looking to the future, Leonhard thinks that within twenty years, we will be able to solve the world food problem, cure almost all diseases, have an infinite source of energy and stop global warming. These developments will have a major impact on our way of life. Much of the work will be taken over by technology. Leonhard predicts that this will mean that human and emotional properties will become of much greater importance. These are capacities that cannot be taken over by technology. Our EQ will become more important than our IQ. Leonhard, therefore, believes that schools should pay more attention to the further development of emotional properties, instead of focusing primarily on IQ development.

Tech companies are becoming the new world powers, but who controls them? Our rules don't grow with them fast enough

The big tech companies in Silicon Valley are the new world powers in this new society. Companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon will have all the technology and data and are therefore in control. Here Leonhard, himself a consultant at many of these companies, foresees a potential problem. At the moment there is no external control on these companies. They can go about their business and are hardly bound by rules because the rules don't grow fast enough. If this situation is not addressed, the big tech companies will take on too much power. It is therefore important that governments and companies engage in dialogue so that a healthy balance of mutual control is achieved.

After Leonard's story, philosopher Haroon Sheikh engages in an interesting discussion about the integration of technology in society. Sheikh predicts that society will first have to go through a stormy period of resistance to achieve a society that defines Leonhard and he predicts a second industrial revolution. Sheikh agrees with Leonhard regarding the threat posed by robots. He indicates that the chances are very small that robots will take over the world (as portrayed in Hollywood films). If a robot wipes out humanity, it will be for purely logistical reasons, for example, to free up space to calculate the number Pi. An insight like this brings everything into perspective again after a morning full of fantasies about the endless possibilities of technology.

It was inspiring to be pulled out of my online marketing bubble again and to think about the impact and consequences of technological developments, the influence of Silicon Valley, and about the ease with which I allow technological developments in my daily life. The morning has also made me very curious about what society will look like in ten years' time. Given his optimistic predictions, let's hope Leonhard is proven right.

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Author's Bio: 

It was inspiring to be pulled out of my online marketing bubble again and to think about the impact and consequences of technological developments,