Artificial Intelligence, from threat to solution in a post-Covid world
By Andrea Caballero
Madrid, Jun 14 (efe-epa).- Technology and artificial intelligence which were previously seen as a threat are now part of the solution to problems created by the coronavirus pandemic, according to technology analyst Josep Lluís Micó.
Micó, coauthor of the book Hyperaceleration. The industrial revolution in the era of the coronavirus (Hiperaceleración. La revolución digital en la época del coronavirus in its original Spanish title), tells Efe that digital change has been accelerated exponentially by Covid-19, which has posed a major challenge for science, shaken the most advanced economies and turned everyone’s lives upside down.
QUESTION: What do you think about the European Union’s attitude towards AI before the pandemic? It was planning to limit its activity in areas such as health. Do you think that scenario will be affected by the pandemic?
ANSWER: The book is titled Hyperaceleration for precisely that reason. Suddenly, without anyone expecting it there is a kind of return to the Middle Ages, as if we were suffering from the plague but with the paradox that it coincides with the development of the fourth industrial revolution and all technology. Many of the social, cultural, political and ethical approaches that existed before the outbreak of this crisis have to change.What until then seemed an intolerable intrusion into people’s privacy because it controlled their movements and entered a field as delicate as health, now this new technology can help to track the evolution of the pandemic and understand how it spreads.I think that most countries, with notable exceptions such as China, have had to modify their legal and moral perception of technology because of Covid-19. Because it turns out that what used to be seen as a threat has now become part of the solution.
Q: That hyper-acceleration of technology, are we really prepared to deal with it or not?
A: Short answer: no. I believe that no one was in the three previous industrial revolutions. A revolution is a sudden and often traumatic fracture from a previous situation. Like any moment or time of transition, this raises many questions. Are we better prepared than those who lived through the previous revolutions with or without health emergencies of this type? Definitely not.
Q: There are many people who suffer from the technology gap. How will this problem be solved so as not to leave anyone behind?
A: We assume that everyone will benefit from these innovations, that everything flows in a fast and natural way because we all have a great connection, we have three computers per family, smartphones, tablets? But obviously, this is not the case.What to do in the face of inequality? Something similar has happened before in the three industrial revolutions. When such a violent and drastic fracture occurs with respect to the previous situation, not everyone is prepared. Not because it is their fault but because they do not have the necessary resources, they have not had the same opportunities as those who do enjoy these benefits.At this point, rather than appealing to charity or solidarity between school students or work colleagues, I think it is when the administration and companies, corporations that are truly committed to the society from which they benefit but which they serve must take responsibility and try to minimize these inequalities as much as possible so that no one is left behind.
Q: The world of social media and technology has helped spread fake news. How will the dilemma between limiting these activities and freedom of expression be managed?