Can the Off switch be the best way to deal with rising technology?


Over the holidays, I proposed this idea to a friend of mine who has a six year old daughter as I do, “If robots are going to take over our childrens' jobs in the future, we should make sure our children maintain their sense of creativity to stay one step ahead. 3D printing is one great way to do that because anyone can express their creativity through the 3D models.” She replied, “When I hear you say that, my initial reaction is to turn all the machines off and revert to farming!”In a sense, she is correct. We’ve already seen the Open Letter on Artificial Intelligence published in early 2015 when Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and many other leading thinkers in the tech field publicly voiced the opinion that AI could provide great benefits, but could also end the human race if used unwisely.Fortunately, the letter resulted in the October 2016 funding and opening of the Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI) at Cambridge, where its researchers, including Hawking himself, will strive to this goal: “to work together to ensure that we humans make the best of the opportunities of artificial intelligence as it develops over coming decades.” Hopefully, they can set the guidelines that can help us avoid those worse case scenarios that they raised in the prior year.Getting back to our six year old daughters, perhaps the best strategy is a little of each. Our children obviously need to get familiar with the STEAM subjects, because their livelihood could depend greatly on their grasp of these subjects. But there’s nothing wrong with just turning off the machines every once in a while to understand something as simple and important as how we get our nutrition. It’s a balance and that balancing act is one of the most important lessons we should give our children. I think even the researchers at the new CFI would totally agree.