WHAT ARE WE GOING TO LEAVE BEHIND?
“LEGACY. Signals of Change 2021/2022” by Zuzanna Skalska opens a new decade of innovation. What are we going to leave behind for the next generations? What will our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren think about us and our actions? Will the world they inherit from us be better than the world we inherited from our ancestors? We need to start asking these questions now: questions about what the future is going to be like... and who is going to be the future.
When you observe the world trying to identify new possibilities, you need to be extremely attentive. The unrelenting information chaos, multiple viewpoints, and scattered authorities require careful separation of the phenomena that really affect our lives from temporary fads. The latter, often surfing the waves of social media, are autotelic, and they seemingly exist just for the sake of existing or being liked by their supporters. They pop up suddenly, go viral, and then quickly fade away.
For us, the real challenge is to respond to human needs. Both the needs that have arisen from changing conditions and aspirations, and the ones that have long been unmet – either because
we want to get rid of them or we finally have what it takes to solve the underlying problems.
Needs, however, are not enough for a new tendency to emerge. The answers (actions or ideas) we have for the problems must be socially acceptable. In other words, they need to fit a framework of accepted viewpoints, somewhere between extreme opinions. We need to remember, though, that this framework is far from stable, and it changes along with the public debate as well as with the conditions, growing needs or threats, and radicalization of opinions. What seemed extreme yesterday is acceptable today, and tomorrow may become standard.
Today, the most interesting field of change and emergence of new directions is the natural environment, so this book covers this topic extensively. This need – present in our lives for decades – has reached critical mass as climate change directly threatens the human species. The awareness of risks, their causes, and areas requiring urgent intervention has been growing dynamically. Green attitudes are now at the very center of the public debate and fit the framework of acceptable activities.
Veganism, less or zero waste movements, renewable energy sources, sustainable transport, green cities... what used to be perceived as a whim of a narrow group of radical environmentalists, is now considered socially acceptable. Tomorrow, it might become a new standard supported by legislative or economic tools.
Here, at Blue Media, we have always been on the lookout for new possibilities in technology. Can technologies cause new tendencies to emerge? It might seem so, especially when you look at the changes in public debate or media and entertainment consumption – changes triggered by technology and those that affect our lives directly. On the other hand, these changes would have never happened without the needs that drive them. Therefore, technologies seem to be an accelerator of changes, rather than their cause. As a technology company, we understand this well and we strive to create tools that meet legitimate needs.
While talking about technology, streams of signals of possibilities, and challenges of the future, we must not forget artificial intelligence and, in particular, its application in automatic decisionmaking. When we collect large data sets
(information) and are able to use them in a continuous, automatic, and rapid way, we can quickly make decisions to solve the biggest problems of societies, and maybe even the humanity as such. As it happens, algorithms can also lack objectivity and their “decisions” may be biased. We are also afraid of the world being “managed” by soulless yet quickthinking and learning machines.
So how do you make algorithmic (and not only) technologies serve people and humanity? How to harness human activity and technological progress to bring us cleaner air, rather than, say, yet another platform for posting funny videos? How to ensure equal access to the benefits of technology, while respecting privacy and human rights? Artificial intelligence is unlikely to give us answers to these extremely important questions. However, we believe in the power of human intelligence. To paraphrase Mark Twain, “the news of its death have been greatly exaggerated”.