NBF2018: Social change and technology


Tech can be a force for good, and we need to have strong collaboration between government and the tech business. AI and blockchain are strong enablers, they will significantly change how we interact with the world. There is a strong belief in that humankind can solve it’s big problems. The number of good people vastly exceeds the number of bad ones, so we just have to keep in mind our violent history and build on the strong foundations of peace and prosperity to build a great future.

Society and technology

Outlook: Social change and technology

We get 3% higher IQ for each decade (the Flynn effect), education is rising fast, and we become both awake and concious. This leads to concious and purpose-driven companies, companies driven by the massively transformative purposes covered in previous articles in the series. Companies nowadays tend to move away from profit maximization toward purpose maximization instead. As talent seeks purpose when it has the choice, it makes the most sense for companies to do the same, to seek purpose instead. Talent is a requirement in the knowledge economy, and business needs to change to attract the best talent.

Companies for human beings

Talent is equally drawn to the servant-leader corporate structures, structures based on love and integrity, for the same reason, that it makes sense. Difficult decisions always have a right way, and payoffs from acting with integrity are tremendous. Yet, those decisions often takes a lot of courage, and are very hard, to make. Integrity is a long game and brings extreme trust in and to the company when adhered to. Business is not an equation, it’s not war, it’s about human beings. Business exists to bring value to one other (John Mackey).

To protect the rules-based order

As the world quickly develops beyond the 1$ a day poverty threshold, the longing of absolute wealth in the world is being replaced by a feeling of inequality, fuelling disintegration, fear and populism. A vast majority in the world has access to a mobile phone and can see how affluence looks, and wish the same for themselves; people in India, Africa and China wants what we have in the Nordics. The western prosperity was built with strong social institutions, free press and a rules-based order for collaboration and business. The competition is with the idea of unequal rights to power, where strongmen rule the world. Our businesses have a tremendeous responsibility to protect the rules-based order under which they operate best, to continue to bring prospertity to the world (Barrack Obama).

Business, and government, together

Tech can be a force for good, and we need to have strong collaboration between government and the tech businesses, because tech tends to work in isolation. The most important contributions we can make is to identify how we can manage our commonalities collaboratively, to create global connecting tissue: better collaboration, scale up local models that work well and reaffirm the liberal and humanist principles of law, human rights and democracy. Humankind can solve it’s big problems, we need to keep in mind that the number of good people vastly exceeds the number of bad ones. However, we need to keep in mind our violent history and build on the strong foundations of peace and prosperity (Barrack Obama).

Perspective on artificial intelligence

We move into a world where Artificial Intelligence will endow humans with stronger cognitive ability than ever before, and we will get the possiblity to solve completely new types of problems. The rise of AI prompted the US government to setup a task force to look into how to adress potential issues early, and one of the findings were how important the collaboration is between government and tech companies. The collaboration needs to be there early to ensure that ethical and moral questions can be adressed upfront, and to avoid controversies such as those with social media and the risk of shifting elections (Barrack Obama).

A short intro on AI

Artificial intelligence develops at break-neck speed. There are two kinds of AI, the optimizing kind, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning with more cognitive abilities. The ways of reasoning and deducing solutions is different between humans and computers, and between the two main kinds of AI. Computer games have long been interesting problems to solve by the computer AI wizards as they are extremely complex and challenging problems and strategies for us humans to even explain in detail.

Players playing against deep learning AI algorithms finds them to sometimes approach games in entirely new ways and with unheard of strategies. The human players categorize computer gameplay to come in three main flavors: programmatic/predictable, human-like and downright “spooky” or “alien”. The “alien” kind is already well beyond our human capacity to understand, and with whole new levels of ways of play. As we feel when we play chess or other games against real masters of the game. We can just sense how well they play the game, and their ways of playing is beyond your grasp. (Andrew McAfee).

The deployment of AI

We will develop a need to use the capacities of AI to reach beyond what the human mind can grasp and understand, in much the same ways that companies today use the worlds best thinkers to advance our knowledge and capabilities in specific areas. AI becomes analogous to microscopes and telescopes, but for cognition rather than seeing. However, we still have many obstacles to overcome to make the bridge between these hyper-cognitive tools and us. One hard challenge for us as a collective will be to deal with how to, and more and more how we are not be able to, understand and explain the strategies behind cognitive AI. There is a time that is coming, where we very well will not understand the strategies they employ at all, but know that they give objectively better outcomes thanks to their “alien” strategies.

J.B.S. Haldane was quoted by McAfee when he described our cognitive frontier, “The universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but how we can suppose”. More details on AI and blockchain in the next article, see the 5th article in the links below.

This, the Nordic Business Forum 2018 summary

The content comes from my attendance at the 2018 Nordic Business Forum where I took copious notes. This is my integrated summary of the ideas that resonated with me, and that made a wider business sense. Some #NBForum2018 notes were too specific, or incongruent with the article, and were left out.

The original article is split up in five parts, and each will be shared over these three weeks:

  1. Strategy and leadership for innovation
  2. Build personal peak performance
  3. Love your way to peak performance
  4. Outlook: Society and new technologies (This article)
  5. Outlook: AI and Blockchain

For the speaker names in parantheses, do refer to the list of speakers at the Nordic Business Forum 2018.

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed the series!