About this articleIn this article I want to highlight some of the technology that could change our relationship with trust. I’ll share a video that if you haven’t seen it, you must, and try to explain what exponential growth means. It’s quite a ride so hold on tight…
Trust me, this is important
Just take a moment to think about how many times you blindly trust someone or something every single day. From the very simple things you might not realise, like trusting your alarm will wake you up or the electricity provider has honoured it’s obligation to maintain a steady electricity supply to your house, meaning your breakfast hasn’t spoiled over night. Perhaps you’re thinking about the trust you share between the members of your household, or that your neighbour will bring your bins in and feed your cats whilst you are on holiday.
Did you think about how you trust that your government will support you in times of need, or that when you go to the shops your card will work or the money in your pocket will still be valid?
Perhaps you thought about fake-news, as this is a hot topic recently? Which new source do you trust? Why?
Maybe you even wondered whether you can trust that I’m actually a real person writing this?
Artificial Intelligence writes fake-news too well
OpenAi is a company founded by the infamous Elon Musk, who since has left the organisation. Its mission is to research and understand the power of AI, and “to promote and develop friendly AI in such a way as to benefit humanity as a whole“. When researchers discovered the power of the fake-news AI generator they created, they shut it down, saying it was too dangerous to get into the wild. That was in February 2019, however it seems (given the date of the headline above) that research continues.
Humans have pretty good built in lie detectors, but these work best during physical interactions, e.g talking to each other. They’re pretty good when listening to voices and also quite good when watching people on video (well, wait to you see the video below). But much less good at picking apart well written, believable texts. This is mainly because in these scenarios we can’t easily pick up on non-verbal indicators such as body language, or changes in voice tone and pattern.
These built in fail-safe systems are absolutely useless if we already trust someone.
In these situations we often only question our trust after being deceived. And in a modern world where things move so fast, and much of our information comes from short articles or snippets of information extracted whilst glancing over a bigger piece of work, learning to untrust a person or source might be too late.
This is already wide-spread and happening now
Last year one of the leading go-to sources of factual news information, Reuters, announced it was heavily investing in AI to create and publish news articles. Last weekend I heard that now, almost 80% of their news is created, or input to, by artificial intelligence systems. That’s a big deal because Reuters information is used in so many business and financial decisions every day.
So the question you should ask yourself here is, what if those AI generated articles were inaccurate, biased or somehow misguided by an external factor or influence? Would we even notice?
Seeing is believing, right?
Let’s move on from our inability to determine fact from fiction, human from AI, in the written word and look at video. We can believe what we see, right? Watch the video below, then we will continue.
I’ve seen this so many times now, and it still gives me the shivers. If you want to know how they did it, the BBC produced this video showing how a previous version was made, watch it here.
Take a moment to sit back and think about what you just saw. We all willingly lower our barriers when it comes to video content already, after all, if we didn’t how could we get so deeply involved in movies?
It won’t stop here. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are blurring the lines between reality and alternative reality even more. The creator of the massive on line game, Second Life is already building an alternate reality that is indistinguishable from the real world. I heard it said, that if you fall asleep and wake up in this alternate reality, you might not realise you are still in the alternate. I’ll cover this topic in more depth in another post later.
Trust and the younger generations
The images above are from a recent conference I attended and show that the younger generations already have significant trust issues, especially with news, big businesses, banks and the justice systems. What is interesting is how much they trust small businesses.
The other slide talks about how we trust our governments. If you take a moment to look at that, it might initially be surprising to see which countries rank well. But then, think about it – does your government have a twenty year plan and do they seem to stick to that plan? Do you feel like your family and your livelihood matter to your ministers? Ok, I’ll leave the politics there for now and move on.
Buckle up and keep your arms and legs in side the vehicle at all times.
What was your world like twenty years ago?
Amazon came to life twenty years ago (1999), Facebook didn’t exist before 2004, and Google was established (not launched) in 1998. Nearly all of the global top ten companies were born in the last twenty years.
The rate of change in our world is described as exponential, and that that’s an incredibly important thing to realise, but very challenging to understand. So, let me try this:
How to imagine exponential growth
Imagine taking a walk, and each of your steps was one meter long. Two steps takes you two meters, five steps takes you five meters. One thousand steps and you’ve covered a kilometre. Now imagine that with each step we can double our stride, meaning our first step takes us forward one meter, but our second step takes us forward two meters, meaning we’ve covered three meters in two steps. If each step doubles in length, after five steps you’ve covered 31 meters, not five.
At this rate, 30 steps would take you around the world 26 times! 30 steps in an exponential world would take you a billion meters!
I posted a short video on exponential growth on my YouTube channel here, maybe take a moment to watch that too.
Again, so what?
Nearly everything we do today involves interacting with things or organisations, and using techniques and tools that didn’t exist ten years ago. With exponential growth, we’ll see the same amount change in the the next five years and by the end of the five years that follow, the world will have changed at a pace twice that that we’ve seen in the last ten.
I live and breathe technology, yet I still get shivers from how quickly things are changing. The majority of the people I know outside of my technology bubble, with the greatest respect, have no clue as to the true power of technology evolution, let alone have an understanding of its potential impact.
But it’s not just technology that’s moving fast. In the next ten years it is likely we will see some traditional currencies virtually disappear, governments and countries could potentially vanish, industries will definitely come and go, our relationship with work, health, our planet, space and the future will also change dramatically.
Now I ask you for one last thought experiment.
Given how long the UK government has been wrangling with the politics of this Brexit debacle, and given the way our children are still being taught the skills their future robot competitors can easily outflank them on, how do we collectively prepare for our immediate future, let alone the world my young children will inherit when they reach adulthood in twenty years time?
I don’t have the answers, but I do believe we should come together work it out, so today I started a Facebook group to pull together a community of people passionate about the topics I covered here. Apply to join the Humanity 5.0 group here.
In the meantime, I will continue to write articles about technology that I hope help raise education and awareness. I hope you find them interesting, please do let me know.