Let’s go for the C-words

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A curious mind constantly asks questions

I love questions. Especially those questions that don’t have a straightforward answer. The kind of questions that make you think, wonder and ponder. 

In the summer of 2018 I heard a talk by the Alix Rübsaam, tech philosopher and researcher, at The Next Web Conference in Amsterdam. Her talk was called ‘AI or Die’. She shared how we as humans somehow compare ourselves to the leading technology of our time. And how we see this in the language that we use. So for us – in these times – we compare ourselves to a computer. We talk about how our brain is wired, and how we reboot ourselves. But.. we are not a computer, are we?

This talk put a question in my mind. A ‘slow question’, and it took me more than a year to start figuring out an answer. What is the value of us as human beings? 

How do we stand out in this increasingly digitized world? 

What makes us different from a computer or a robot? Finding an answer felt like doing a scavenger hunt. Searching for clues along the way. My starting point was looking at intelligence. How does our human intelligence compare to artificial intelligence?

Computers are smarter and faster. They can multitask and handle super complex problems. Looking at applications of AI you can see the potential. We can imagine that at some point artificial intelligence will exceed our human intelligence.

Let’s dive into the case of Robot Ross, the legal assistant. This robot does legal research to find relevant cases, develops solid arguments and can predict how a case will proceed. For a lawyer this is very time-consuming work. For the robot it’s a piece of cake. And a subscription costs only $65 per month. 

So where does that leave us? 

How do we relate to this increasingly artificial intelligent future? If intelligence is our unique gift, then our highest aim can be no more than being a failing prototype that will become redundant by future robots and computers. 

Thank goodness there’s more to us than intelligence, although intelligence comes in quite useful in our current era – and I’m sure will have some value in the future too. But only in combination with other qualities. 

As my curiosity takes a leap, one thing stands out. Finding the balance in man and machine, means that we have to increase our natural skills. 

We are humans. We are social creatures, able of making a connection with each other. Moreover, we are born to do that. When we acknowledge the value of every individual, be inclusive, be connected – we can do amazing things… we can make magic happen … we can own our future.

And hey, what do you see? All these natural gifts start with a C! Connectedness, Curiosity, Compassion, Creativity, Collaboration.

So if it’s up to me, I’d bet on the C-words. 

Let’s get curious and fire up our creativity to find new ways to do new things, that even computers can’t think of. Let’s join forces and collaborate. Not just in our team, but cross-company and if we encounter any hurdles compassion with pave the way. Cause in the end we are connected. And that is what makes us count.

A tiny deep dive and pep-talk for Robot Ross

I’m sad to say that the Robot Ross had to close shop at the beginning of this year. After 6 years of innovation and disruption in the legal industry, big players in this industry managed to knock out the robot. They may have won the battle this time, but we can all see what direction things are moving into. 

Just a side note – you can skip this if you want – but I love Ayn Rand. In her book ‘Fountainhead’ (about an architect who refuses to numbly follow the rules, who – despite all the set backs – sticks to his purpose and strives for innovation), she writes this:

“Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision. Their goals differed, but they all had this in common: that the step was first, the road new, the vision unborrowed, and the response they received — hatred. The great creators — the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors — stood alone against the men of their time. Every great new thought was opposed. Every great new invention was denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The airplane was considered impossible. The power loom was considered vicious. Anesthesia was considered sinful. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. 

They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won.”

That says it all.

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