• Do We Need to Be Worried About AI and Wearable Technology?

Do We Need to Be Worried About AI and Wearable Technology?

The fear of technology is growing. Some fear computers will take their job – we’re seeing it with self-serve checkouts and automated tellers, and very soon we’ll see it with driverless cars. Others fear a lack of security and privacy with the use of wearable devices and smartphones. Whilst, others fear that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will ultimately lead to human genocide. Whilst none of these fears are unfounded (to a degree) we must remember that “change is the only constant in life” (Heraclitus), and we have the power to improve our lives with technology.

Fear of change and fear of the new isn’t uncommon. In the 18th century, many people tried to stop the installation of street lights as they felt it would destroy our concept of night and day. Today, street lighting makes us feel safer and has possibly reduced crime – it’s improved our way of life. Some would argue humanity hasn’t improved, crime has merely moved to areas without street lighting, but this argument can also be said about technology. There will always be people who wish to exploit and do harm, but this is where our laws and education system are needed to mitigate those exceptions. So, how do we overcome our fears of technology? We focus on the positives of technology.

What positives are there in computers taking our jobs?

Automation has and will continue to reduce the number of workers needed in particular industries. It’s inevitable. Every commercial sector will be impacted in some way. Many occupations will join the likes of the milkman and elevator operator and no longer exist, but they’ll be replaced by other occupations. Automation targets repetitive tasks and these types of tasks are actually damaging to our brain. Downtime from thinking is absolutely important, however, an unstimulating work environment impacts your memory and cognitive performance. Being stimulated and challenging our mind improves our wellbeing, and improves our ability to perform. Finding the balance between a stimulating occupation, and having downtime is really important. Technology is helping find that balance – there are a plethora of apps to improve your memory, and even more apps for mindful breathing and meditation. Occupations will continue to change, therefore it’s important to be adaptable and open to learning new skills.

Is convenience worth risking our privacy?

Wearables and smartphones are convenient, but location enabler and AI features in these devices scare some people. These features also have positives. Wearables and smartphones are increasing our safety through GPS – tracking a missing person’s phone provides the police with valuable information regarding their whereabouts. This can be particularly important for small children in the future. Wearables are also increasing our health and fitness. Many of us work at computers and get to the end of the day without having moved from our desk. Wearables are highlighting our need to do more activity. Wearables are also tracking our sleep and nutrition enabling us to make better choices throughout the day. In the future, wearables will support people who require consistent updates on their health, for example reporting on heart rate and blood glucose levels. Wearables can lead to healthier individuals and a healthier workforce which reduces the economic burden on our health system.

Is AI a threat?

AI is the ability for computers to process large volumes of structured and unstructured data in order to make decisions and take action. There are different levels of AI. Strong AI refers to a machine thinking and trying to perform activities without human intervention. Weak (or narrow) AI is less powerful and is seen in many of today’s technologies such as Google search engine, or Apple’s Siri. There are many benefits to AI. For example, Google is allowing students in developing countries (with internet access) to have the same source of information as students in Australia or the UK. Technology is beginning to equal the playing field, albeit there is much work to do in this area. Additionally, AI is helping in healthcare. SMG is utilising machine learning to understand the potential health journey of health fund members. Xela, our predictive analytics engine harnesses AI to deliver insights that can improve the health of individuals through intervention and prevention programs. If we’re aware of a potential future illness, then we’re given the ability to prevent or reduce the severity of that illness. AI is making this a reality.

It is reported that in 10 to 15 years, 40 percent of our jobs will no longer exist. And that there will be 780 million wearable devices by the end of 2018. Five years ago, I may have been concerned by these figures but now I’m excited by them. I visited schools in Malawi, Africa and worked in remote areas in Cambodia and saw first-hand the value of technology in the small (dirt) classrooms and offices. I personally have also been benefiting from my first wearable device – I now have walking meetings and stop to do focused breathing exercises throughout each day. AI is what I’m most excited. To be able to map out an individual’s health journey 5 years into the future and introduce intervention and prevention programs for people at risk is something that will change our health landscape.

It is exciting to consider the potential improvements technology will continue to make to our lifestyles. It will require everyone to be lifelong learners, and we will see a change in regulations and a shift in our education curriculums. But the impact on individual’s wellbeing, and our community should be something to look forward to rather than fear.




Kylee Randall

Head of Consultancy & Special Projects

Kylee Randall has spent the last 17 years in roles focussed on developing high productivity, resilient cultures in corporations. She has successfully delivered complex projects that integrate technology and people. Kylee has witnessed the value wellbeing provides to organisations, striving to promote this mentality in all projects. Kylee’s qualifications include a business degree, Master of Business Administration (Sustainable Business) and she is currently studying a Post Graduate Diploma in IT.

#mentalillness in #Youth read how 21 friends supported youth mental health by running 21km.
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Looks like this would have been not only a great way to stay fit but awesome way to raise fund! Our GM in APAC, stomping the stadium!

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