Henkka Hyppӧnen's Visit to Speakers Corner HQ: Our Future With Artificial Intelligence

16 May 2018

We live in an age of uncertainty where nobody can predict exactly what the future may hold. Acclaimed horror writer H.P. Lovecraft once said, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”.

Today, our news feeds are populated with stories on the impact that technology could have on the future of our society. We hear all the time about how Artificial Intelligence could take over our jobs, and how cryptocurrency could bring down our economic system.

To allay our fears, we welcomed futurist Henkka Hyppӧnen to our office to give his take on what the future has in store.

We Need To Test Our Assumptions

Henkka began by observing that we have lived in a predictable environment for the last 50-100 years, and our assumptions have always been based on past experience. He illustrates his point with a world map from 1154. As we struggled to make sense of it, he flipped the map upside down and suddenly the familiar shapes we are used to become clear. He showed us that despite the orientation being the opposite to what we are accustomed to, we still tried to apply the same basic assumptions to the old map.

“We need to test our assumptions of almost everything we know”

Al-Idrisi's World Map, 1154

The Uncharted Future

Henkka moved onto a second world map from 1525 which showed a large blank space. We learnt how our ancestors understood that there were whole new continents out there to discover. Henkka inspired us to think of the future as a new territory to explore, to overcome the fear of the unknown.

“Map makers left white spaces on their maps to invite people for exploration, this is what companies and human beings have to do during this transition”

Salviati Planisphere, 1525

The Threat Of Automation

Talking of the future, Henkka then moved onto the subject we were all waiting for… What professions could be automated in next 10-20 years. He cited the 2013 Oxford University Paper which outlined the probability of which jobs are most threatened by AI. This was bad news for all the telemarketers out there, but great news if you’re a therapist or a dancer (note to self: practice pirouette)!

But the lesson here was that the more a job requires creativity or emotional intelligence, the less it is under threat. Unlike some other futurists, Henkka used this information to give us a positive message; we shouldn’t fear the future, instead we should change our mindset and be prepared to work in harmony with technology.

Working In Harmony With Tech

Henkka sees the future as an uncharted land, which we should boldly set out to discover. We shouldn’t be afraid of technology but be ready to work in harmony with it – if we can understand which areas of society can be automated, then we should use this knowledge to promote a culture which focuses on creative problem solving, critical thinking, and social intelligence; creating a future where humans and technology working happily together.

It was great for us to hear Henkka’s optimistic outlook on the future, so put on your best explorer's outfit and go bodly where no man has gone before.

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