Today’s business world is one that’s becoming ever more asymmetrical, as digital capabilities are rapidly outpacing our unenhanced human abilities.
Right now, computers are able to process more data in a single day than was likely processed by the totality of human minds throughout all of human history; quantum computers are just over the horizon, promising near limitless data collection and processing.
Our collective intellect has created machine learning that’s enabling us to strategize and analyze in near real time at a scale that cannot truly be comprehended; true artificial intelligence may soon allow computers to not only create but also enhance these capabilities without any human guidance at all.
What’s an individual to do? Or more to the point, what can a singular person do against this rising tide? If you fear becoming obsolete, your fear is not unfounded. If you do nothing, you’re almost certainly guaranteed to become a relic; you will become an artifact gathering dust in the collective consciousness.
Simply put, you have to “lean into it” and discover how best to leverage emerging technologies in your particular situation. Dragging your feet is only going to create a trench leading to your grave.
Adopting New Technology
Prior to World War I, military superpowers such as Great Britain resisted adopting new technology such as the fully automatic machine gun because they were “unfair” and “ungentlemanly.” However, by the end of the war, these tools had become standard issue to every fighting force.
How many of the millions killed had died while their side was playing by a set of rules that everyone else was ignoring? This isn’t to say that we should abandon our principles any time we can gain an advantage from them; there’s a reason why the U.S. military follows the Geneva Conventions even when our enemies do not.
However, it’s irresponsible to ignore the future simply because we prefer the way things used to be. There’s often objective strength in clinging to true and authentic tradition; there’s objective weakness in deliberately rejecting improvements in helpful technology and tools.
Even a “primitive” tool such as the hammer is actually a force multiplier. Imagine trying to build anything without a hammer: The undeniable truth is that you’re able to build bigger, better, and faster with this simple tool. This concept applies across all technological advances, whether they’re hand tools or algorithms.
When it comes to machine learning, that’s the equivalent of having an ever-expanding team of expert carpenters that learn how to build things more efficiently and at a higher quality every single time they finish a structure.
Tools like machine learning and/or artificial intelligence can actually empower human beings to conduct essential acts such as the OODA Loop at levels that would not be possible if we were relying on human brain power alone.
Being able to process, segment, filter, and analyze data points across multiple key performance indicators at these speeds is nothing short of developing superpowers.
We’re beginning to see the emergence of the ability to process big data effectively in ways that allow us to glean actionable insights, while becoming better at it every single time we do it. We take the data and use it to take decisive actions, which in turn inform our algorithms on what our desired results are. This means more effective predictive models that in turn provide more effective prescriptive analytics.
This much power can just as easily become a vulnerability, if we allow ourselves to believe that the tool is the expert craftsman, rather than us.
Still in Charge
When we allow these tools to do our thinking, rather than empowering our ability to focus, we become distracted by noise rather than insights. When you have today’s processing powers at the literal touch of a finger, it’s easy to become convinced that having access to knowledge is the same as possessing this knowledge.
If you want to embrace the future, while maintaining your humanity, you must realize that these technological advances work to serve you, not the other way around. Allow them to assist you in focusing your energies to where they’re most effective; don’t allow them to overwhelm your senses and create chaos inside you. Choose focus; reject distraction.
For all of the distractions that come with our digital world, it’s intellectually dishonest to pretend that we would be better off as a society if electronic communication peaked with Morse code. Being able to communicate important messages at near the speed of thought is an amazing leap forward for humanity; thinking every message we send is important enough to require lightning quick delivery is a weakness.
While artificial intelligence and machine learning allow us to explore data faster than at any other time in human history, it does not make us omnipotent. The most urgent threat we face isn’t artificial intelligence reaching self-awareness and murdering all of humanity. It’s the slow death of passively accepting irrelevance instead of embracing the future.
Chris Erickson is a combat veteran and former Green Beret, with extensive experience deployed to various locations across the world. He now works in the communications industry. You can follow him on Twitter @EricksonPrime.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.