Over the last few months I’ve managed to become mildly addicted to Humans, a series on Channel 4. And some of the philosophical questions it posed were also in evidence at a recent event we held in the Accelerated Solutions Environment (ASE). ’Humanoid synths’ formed a large part of a conversation I was involved in as we explored storytelling with Matt and Gail Taylor, founders of the MG Taylor Methodology
During the three day event, one whole day was dedicated to a module we call ‘Scan’.
Within Scan we take a moment to ‘slow down to speed up’, where we stop and think, examine, ponder the world around us. We then apply that world to our world and you’d be amazed at the insights it brings!
While sat discussing the possible future of robots with the team in 2065, the conversation flowed into this potential reality and my mind wondered partly to Humans. Although the idea of artificial intelligence being able to feel may be fantasy, there was much of the programme that was very clever in creating a realistic alternative world, one that we may have to deal with in the not so distant future.
So, according to the makers of Humans, what challenges will the next digital era bring us? How will society adopt what we would now consider fairy tale dreaming of scientists and geeks?
The programme plays well on society’s fear of change, of the unknown or the ‘abnormal’. It depicts riots and resistance, with demonstrations of hate in the streets of London.
It shows an underworld of those carving a way in an exciting new and lucrative market; a black market, a new form of prostitution and a variety of flight clubs. It also shows the new Government departments set up to deal with the new types of crime that have developed as a result of the ‘synths’. Other aspects cleverly play on the psychology of interacting with a computer/ synthetic/ machine and emotion.
A big part of Humans that I found fascinating was around the impact on our ability and motivation to work; in the programme, all menial or repetitive jobs had been taken by ‘synths’. Young people were even less engaged with school than they are now, with even the bright students having the attitude of ‘what is the point in studying, a synth will have my job by the time I get there anyway’. Amusingly the family home had the standard sprinkling of dysfunction as any UK drama.
How does thinking about the future help us now?
Whilst reflecting on the timeline back in the MG Taylor event and looking to the future of possible Humans as a reality, it dawned on our team that yes, it can seem overwhelming; the rate of change is ever increasing and the world is more complicated now than it has ever been but none of this is actually new. Everything we see now, in 10 years, in 60 years time, someone somewhere will have experienced the same process before in one way or another. The emotion, the resistance, the society changes, we may be talking about technology, digital, IT but what we’re really talking about is people.
The reality of Humans is we do have this absolute love-hate relationship with technology and ‘advancement’. Here in the ASE we help people to bridge that gap and walk away with understanding and meaning behind the technology that is being created and implemented. Scan is one tiny yet hugely effective tool we use in that process.
What are your thoughts about the future? How often do you take a minute to ponder what 2065 will look like for you, your family and your business? How often do you reflect on the meaning of historic events to ensure you learn from them in the future?
We’d be delighted to hear your thoughts.
More on Humans here (if you have a week, I’d definitely do a binge watch)