There’s a lot of talk of tech these days. And there’s almost as much talk about how we all need to be able to talk tech! I for one agree with that sentiment: as I’ve said in a previous blog , while many see the so-called drain of STEM graduates into non-STEM sectors as a problem, I actually think the opposite – STEM familiarity in every corner of society and industry is only going to benefit us as the fourth industrial revolution starts to accelerate. For it will accelerate at a pace we cannot imagine. Having STEM-literate people in sectors where STEM has traditionally been viewed as irrelevant is going to be a huge blessing.
But enough of talking about tech. What I want to write about today is the importance – in the context of the fourth industrial revolution – of talk itself. We need to be able to tech, yes, but we also really, really need to be able to talk, too. Casting aside the apocalyptic visions about where tech is leading us, a vision where the machines have taken over, we need to bear this in mind: tech is supposed to help us, to help society function better – I mean, there are even articles being written about an artificial intelligence-led future where none of us need to work at all.
But that’s a long way in the future – however quickly the fourth industrial revolution is progressing. As tech gets ever more sophisticated, it might start looking as if it is self-propelling, as if we can take a back seat; as tech begins to pre-empt what we want it to do, we might be tempted to let it. This would be a big, big mistake. Tech’s appearance of intelligence is – for now – just that. It still needs us to steer it. And to flirt for a moment with those apocalyptic visions, we do have to keep talking as a way to keep tabs on where it’s going.
If we all start sitting back and letting tech do its thing, talk only in tech’s language, we’ll lose each other – and we might start losing control of tech. Losing control of tech is not – I honestly believe – going to lead to the rise of the machines, but it might mean two lesser evils: we don’t use it to the maximum and we lose a little bit of our humanity.