Are We at the Inflection Point Where Technology Now Surpasses Human Understanding?

Spooky story in Fast Company today about technology outpacing humanity’s ability to understand and/or control it. 

The piece opens with an anecdote we’re all familiar with: The degradation and destruction of Tay, the tragic Microsoft artificial intelligence chatbot designed to “think” and “talk” like a smart, sweet, innocent, inquisitive 19-year old woman.

As has been much written about, Tay learned through her social media interaction, and in a day had been transformed into a sex-obsessed nymphomaniac racist white supremacist. Microsoft had to virtually smother the digitally brainwashed co-ed in her nascent youth.

It’s a depressing enough story when you consider the ramifications about social media and the human condition, but Fast Company takes it another step, asking readers to consider what this says about unintended consequences and the ability for technology to go in places we don’t always expect and not always for the best.

"More and more, even the experts don’t really have a full understanding of their system, that they’ve worked on on a daily basis or that they’ve built,” says Samuel Arbesman author of “Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension.”

“That’s really the more startling fact: that we’ve moved into this new era of incomprehensibility," Arbesman says.

Facts like this make the necessity for organizations like 7CTOs all the more urgent. When we consider the ramifications of the technology we work with, we always need to keep the human element in mind, balance the profit and the progress with the profundity of natural wonder and elevation of the human spirit. It’s the only way we’re all going to get to the next phase of economic development intact and improved.