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Wild Cards and Schools of Technological Thought

21/05/2020 276

Using technology against high impact events like Coronavirus

Mark Knickrehm published the article entitled «How will AI change work? Here are 5 schools of thought». In this article, the author identified five schools of thought on the development and impact of technology in the future. His vision was very interesting and could be expanded with the impacts of the so-called Wild Cards (unexpected cards).

In the world of studies of future, unexpected cards refer to low probability, high impact events.

For example, the global crisis caused by the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is an example of Wild Card. In a 2019 article by authors Simon Beard and Lauren Holt for the BBC, a 1.5% probability was estimated for a severe flu pandemic or the like that unfortunately has impacted on us this year. In other words, hardly anyone could expect the appearance and exponential expansion of the coronavirus. However, it has happened and it is going to change the world as we know it.

Other examples of Wild Cards could be a super volcanic eruption, a cyber-attack, or the impact of a meteority on Earth. In relation to this last threat, the asteroid (52768) 1998 OR2, between 1.8 and 4 km in diameter, will pass close to the Earth on April 29, 2020. This event does not represent a threat but reminds us of how vulnerable we are and the importance of using all the available tools to be able to prevent and carry out contingency plans for this type of threat.

The five schools that Mark Knickrehm proposed 3 years ago on the development and impact of technology are: Dystopians, utopians, technological optimists, productivity sceptics and optimistic realists.

According to dystopians, humans and machines will have a Darwinian fight. The result will be that machines will win, causing massive unemployment, falling wages and economic crises.

According to utopians, the incredible development of intelligent machines will generate unprecedented wealth. The singularity will be reached and economic output could double every 3 months. A related concept, widely used by the Singularity University, is “abundance”.

Technology optimists believe that some companies will take advantage and make the most of smart technologies, but the benefits will not be evenly distributed.

Productivity sceptics believe that the gains from smart technologies nationwide will be low. This will also affect issues such as aging, inequality and the costs caused by climate change.

Finally, optimistic realists believe that smart machines will be able to stimulate technological gains by creating new jobs, but the difference between high and low-skilled jobs could be accentuated.

These schools of thought were proposed, quite probably, without taking into account the impact of an unexpected card like the coronavirus. Studies of future should incorporate the possible impacts of unexpected cards. This task is extremely complex and the help of artificial intelligence is needed to model these types of unexpected impacts.

Artificial Intelligence technologies developed by companies such as IBM, Amazon, Apple, Google or can be essential to prevent and find solutions to large complex problems like those caused by Wild Cards.