The scope of technological advancements the world has seen, especially in recent decades, demonstrates the difficulty in imagining the trajectory of artificial intelligence (AI) as it continues to contribute new innovations at an exponential rate. This presents a unique dilemma: to what extent will AI outgrow the need for human intelligence, rendering it obsolete in the “age of information” and beyond?
On October 21, 2021, I represented World Youth Alliance at the NASA MasterClass for Global Leaders with the Vatican Observatory. The international event featured presentations and discussions among leading industry experts in their respective fields of economics, academia, sciences, and the humanities. The guest speaker panel included Mike Walsh, an AI expert and futurist. His reliance on society’s ability to keep abreast with algorithmically enhanced technology prompts the consideration of whether this pursuit would adversely create division in the global landscape, ostracizing societies that struggle to adapt in light of the proposed magnitude of such changes. Regarding this point, he emphasized a guiding question, “what is the true potential of human intelligence?” which addressed two main aspects: the current generation of youth who are shaped by technology and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The youth of today are growing up constantly surrounded by data. Mr. Walsh’s talk called attention to refreshing points about the benefits of AI including its positive influence on the next generation. This juxtaposes the negative connotation that is typically implied in the discussion of automation in terms of employment replacement and subsequent use of intimidatingly advanced robotics. Instead of overwriting the functionality of humans in the workforce, he indicates that by embracing technology, we are able to strategically harness and utilize it towards maximizing human potential. His proposal of becoming an algorithmic leader suggests welcoming the idea of reinventing oneself in what he terms the “age of algorithms.” By this interpretation, human intelligence is not replaced, but the capacity in which humans are needed in a given job will shift, which requires the application of creativity.
The pandemic prompted society to respond with innovative solutions which were catalyzed by technology. For example, a result of global stay-at-home mandates caused socio-economic reform for equitable internet access to accommodate distance learning and teleworking options. Likewise, the manner in which scientists around the world unified in light of the urgency to develop a vaccine provides an additional compelling example of resourcefulness. These adaptive responses highlight the power of technology and its capacity to create revolutionary change.
My initial exploration surrounding the impending repercussions of AI alluding to a “technological takeover” began during my undergraduate study of surrealism, particularly in my French and Spanish courses featuring the works of André Breton, Pablo Piccasso, Salvador Dalí, and Pablo Neruda. Ultimately, their inspiration led me to encounter Spanish-Argentine writer Eduardo González Lanuza’s poem “Taller” (Workshop) from his first collection, “Prismas” (Prisms; 1924). His detailed use of imagery and personification of machinery emulates a sense of admiration and optimism towards the future of modernization.
Overall, cultivating creativity as a means of adaptation and resilience to the rapidly changing nature of technology resonates with World Youth Alliance’s belief that humanity is the world’s greatest resource. These instances support the notion that artificial intelligence—in service of humanity and which upholds human dignity—should not be feared but valued for its potential. Thereby, we as a society collectively commit to evaluating its merits in support of human intelligence and implementing preemptive measures to sustain its long-term methodical utilization.
Published on: November 17, 2021
Written by Caitlin Velasco Banez, Advocacy Intern at World Youth Alliance Headquarters