mulgan2_Patrick Pleulpicture alliance via Getty Images_wikipediamonument Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

Special Edition Magazine, Spring 2020: Beyond the Techlash

The Game Changer Beyond AI

For good reason, many people around the world are growing concerned at the speed with which new technologies are replacing labor, disrupting democracy, and manipulating the public for profit. But it doesn't have to be this way: a far superior approach to the design and deployment of technology is already on offer.

LONDON – One might not know it, judging by all the doom and gloom in the press, but there are still parts of the world where technology is regarded as a force for good – even for salvation. A recent survey shows that over 80% of young Africans are optimistic about what technology will do for the continent.

But elsewhere, people increasingly feel as though they are locked in a titanic struggle against technologies that threaten to take their jobs, steal their data, destroy the very idea of childhood, and disrupt democracy. Technology often seems like something that is done to us by distant and unaccountable forces, rather than something that we control. It doesn’t help that, for all of the extraordinary hype about artificial intelligence (AI), much of the investment in this domain has focused on military applications and manipulative ways to target propaganda and advertisements. No wonder people feel vulnerable and anxious.

Fortunately, there are still ways for us to develop a better relationship with the extraordinary technologies that are coming online and to the market. One alternative strategy is to develop “collective intelligence” (CI), which, rather than seeking ways to replace people with AI, focuses on combining the best of humans with the best of machines. This approach is becoming increasingly influential in business, science, and government, partly because it works, but also because it embodies the democratic, humanistic values that many of us hold dear.

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