The Concern Between Technology & Humanity
Our world has completely transformed, and significant rapid changes have happened since the beginning of the 1st industrial revolution to the latest 4th industrial revolution. We have even started moving on to the next phase of the industrial revolution. New technologies and their features are being introduced to us. Undoubtedly, the emergence of technologies due to the industrial revolution affects us, whether in our daily life or even at the workplace. As technologies become more advanced and equipped with new features, a concern regarding the current role of humans and technologies and their relationship starts to arise.
We all know that there have been rapid changes since the 1st industrial revolution that happened in the past (Vickers & Ziebarth, 2019). Previously, the 4th industrial revolution produced features and technological advancements, namely smart factories and automatization, the internet of things, artificial intelligence and machine learning, augmented and virtual reality, and bio modification. The emergence of those technologies in our daily life, whether at work or personal life, raises questions about humans’ and technologies’ current role. We are now entering the phase of the 5th industrial revolution in which the topics surround human-machine collaborations and the user’s wellbeing (Xu et al., 2021). In this part, the author wants to break down into several parts: the role of technology, humans, and the relationship between those two.
One of the most talked about technology in terms of industries are smart factories and automatization. Although the human role still exists in mundane, repetitive, and low-skilled jobs, they are being replaced slowly but surely by the appearance of novel technologies (Noble et al., 2022). The technology owned by Amazon, Walmart, and Ocado to automate their warehouse management or in another of their supply chains (Mims, 2018). Even smart shops are already developing and erasing shop clerks’ role in some self-checkout shops (Grewal et al. 2020). This could mean that forefront employees with lowskills specialization will face the danger of losing their job as they can not compete with technologies’ speed and precision.
Second, digitalization has been absorbed in every part of our life through the smartphone, smart sensors, the internet itself, and almost every digital technology we see and use daily. The data generated from those devices are enormous and connected to one another to create appropriate solutions and personalized needs (Corno, De Russis, & Monge Rofarello, 2021). This interconnected data through the mentioned technology is called the internet of things (IoT) (ITU, 2012; Pretz, 2013). The IoT can be operated independently without human intervention (Li, Xu, & Zhao, 2015). IoT can bring a lot of benefits that allow us to improve our way of living (Atlam et al., 2018) in many areas like healthcare (Qadri et al., 2020), transportation (Zhang & Lu, 2020), and even sustainability (López-Vargas, Fuentes, & Vivar, 2020). With a lot of data generated automatically, single surface-level observation from humans can not compete with multiple deep-level data that the technologies provide.
Processing massive data.
Enormous amounts of data generated by the technologies are then automatically processed by the machines with the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning (Kibria et al., 2018). The presence of machine learning and artificial intelligence reinforces and enables the creation of automatization and the IoT (Wang & Siau, 2019). These smart analyses and suggestions could significantly improve efficiency regarding usage from a business perspective (Stanciu, 2017). Moreover, all the data will be further stored in a decentralized and secured path in the blockchain (Dorri, Kanhere, & Jurdak, 2017). With all of our data secured and processed to meet our needs, it will significantly reduce the workloads and, hopefully, increase humans’ quality of life.
One of the most arguable aspects of machines and technology that could emit exciting discussions among scientists, technology developers, business owners, and common people is whether they can give social presence and empathy (Kim et al., 2021; Liu & Sundar, 2018; Pepito et al., 2020). Humans have tendencies to characterize non-humans as humans in the way they behave, think, and look (Blut et al., 2021), which is an innate tendency inherited from our ancestors (Hutson, 2012) and based on humans’ experience and agency (Simmler and Frischknecht 2021; Waytz et al. 2010). The term that we use to describe the phenomenon is called anthropomorphism. A significant number of efforts have been shown to anthropomorphize machines and technologies to become social actors that can imitate the sense of warmth and competence of humans (Gambino, Fox, and Ratan 2020). This progression to humanizing machines may rival human strengths in showing empathy in the future since machines can accurately detect invisible indicators such as hormones and blood-pressure levels (Damiano & Dumouchel, 2018; Zamkah et al., 2020).
Lastly, technologies are enabling us to turn far-distant dreams previously into reality. Technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) can significantly help us in education (Garzón, Pavón, & Baldiris, 2019), entertainment (Savela et al., 2020), or even psychotherapy (Sekula, Downey, & Puspanathan, 2022). Teleconferences technology and social media also made it possible for humans to keep in touch with others regardless of their location. Those technologies can renew the approaches of businesses in getting in touch with their customers (Li, Larimo, & Leonidou, 2021), bolster innovations (Muninger, Hammedi, & Mahr, 2019), and strengthen learning (Liu et al., 2019).
Moreover, all living things, such as agricultural plants (Pramanik, 2020; Shang et al., 2019), animals (Torres-Ortega et al., 2019), and humans (Tafazoli et al., 2019) now can be helped by the existence of bio-modification whether it increases productivity or curing diseases. Nonetheless, technologies such as VR, AR, teleconference, and biomodification still need a lot of human touches to make them work, which creates room for harmonious collaborations between machines and humans.
First of all, although machines and technology are very smart, human is still needed to carry out high-skilled and complex tasks which have not been replaced, at least not yet, by machines and technologies because they often require implicit knowledge (David, 2015; Park, Hong, & Shin, 2022). Highskilled and complex tasks are usually characterized by demanding flexibility, creativity, generalized problem-solving, and complex communications (Beer & Mulder, 2020). Humans are products of years of evolution and keep improving until today; that is why having a long-life learning mindset is a must-have to become a multi-skilled worker who can adapt to the latest challenges (Park, 2020). Although, AI artists have become a topic that is discussed in social media recently because machines and technologies are now starting to enter creative industries. Even with sometimes questionable and laughable results, the machines are learning and possibly becoming capable of creating art in the future.
Second, we need to be able to ‘speak’ to machines by developing tech translation and enablement competency by borrowing the terms from McKinsey (Dondi et al., 2021). The rapid advancement of technologies in either work or personal life will urge us to learn about it no matter how little. By being able to ‘speak’ to machines, we can ask the machines to run precisely as we intended. Furthermore, understanding how machines and technologies work is also essential for humans to determine what is possible and what is still not within reach of our hands and thus know what can be improved and utilized from the current conditions (Parker & Grote, 2022). In addition, through understanding technology and machine, we can also determine which one we choose to support us the most, both in work and personal life (Davis, 1989).
As teleconference technology and social media become unstoppable forces, human interaction cannot reach a standstill as an immovable object. Humans need to reshape their approaches to communicating with others. Using emoticons, properly written sentences, and fast replies to messages are necessary to avoid miscommunications with other parties (Romiszowski & Mason, 2013). Even more, social media as a visible medium can negatively affect the user if it is not used responsibly (Best, Manktelow, & Taylor, 2014).
Besides that, since there is a lot of information, perspective, and conflict of value circulating the internet, having intellectual humility has been proven to be able to differentiate strong and weak arguments (Leary et al., 2017), facilitate learning and knowledge acquisition (Porter et al., 2022) while also lead to higher satisfaction in interacting with others, especially in professional life (Grossmann et al., 2020; Krumrei-Mancuso & Rowatt, 2021).
Lastly, while trying to humanize machines, we tend to lose empathy, the trait that makes us human, human. Empathy towards another human still can not be replaced by machines, at least yet. Therefore, we need to maintain our strength as humans. Empathy can reduce malicious behavior in interacting with others (Bove, 2019), enhances tolerance (Vyatkin, Fomina, & Shmeleva, 2020), and intellectual humility itself (Porter et al., 2022).
With the easiness of accessing information, especially when working in a tech company, there are limits on what is good, what can be done, and what is forbidden. One of the foundations in the technological era is the transparency of the things that happen within the company when making products. Our morality plays a role the moment we are using or managing technology. Looking at Google’s motto, Don’t Be Evil and Do The Right Thing, shows the importance of morality in the current era. Machines and technology can provide data and operates precisely. Still, it requires intentionality and moral clarity from humans about the impact on business and society (Martin & Shilton, 2022). Society now places great emphasis on ethics and morality in their life that is why the business processes that are carried out will affect their branding (Bietti, 2020). We entail upholding our moral values in everything we do, mainly if it affects humans’ lives. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “morality is the basis of things, and the truth is the substance of all morality.”
It Takes Two to Tango: Having Everlasting and Harmonious Dances Together
The most important thing in starting a relationship is understanding the limitations and strengths of both parties. Machines and technologies can operate and detect things through advanced sensors and algorithms, which enables them to observe something that was hardly done by humans. On the other side, machines and technologies can still not ‘feel’ the sense that is too complex to be determined only based on numbers. In contrast, humans can do so (Kopalle et al., 2022). The door to having everlasting and harmonious dances together will be unlocked by humbly accepting each of our merits.
Humans and machines already coexist in the healthcare industry to provide greater levels of patient care. Machines and technologies are used to monitor the patient’s physiological reactions and will signal humans as caretakers if needed; hence we can give faster and better treatment (Awad et al., 2021).
Doctors can also remotely monitor the patients’ activity through technologies that help determine the best treatments for patients (Jat & Grønli, 2022). Moreover, issues regarding the COVID-19 pandemic have been tackled using IoT to manage and monitor the virus spreading, diagnose during quarantine, and after recovery (Nasajpour et al., 2020).
Next, decision-making in a business context also creates room for human-machine collaboration. AI systems can bring forth detailed data and suggestions to allow decision-makers to make better decisions (Kaplan & Haenlein 2019). Decision makers can focus on “feeling business” in deciding. Consequently, it could enhance customer engagement and alter customer experience management (Huang, Rust, & Maksimovic, 2019). AI also offers suggestions such as product designs and customers’ tastes that reduce the burden for decisionmakers, eventually increasing business revenue like the one in Zara and H&M (Duoyan, 2021).
Lastly, machines and technologies can reduce the number of accidents that could happen in a hazardous environment. The increased amount of machines equipped with advanced sensors makes it possible to work through previously unreachable territory (Cascio and Montealegre, 2016). AI, machine learning, and autonomous technology have proven to reduce cost, improve productivity, and decrease the environmental footprint in mining industries as more and more companies are taking the initiative to implement technologies (Hyder, Siau, & Nah, 2019). In the factory setting, the configuration of machines has dynamically adapted while still enforcing functional safety requirements (Mangler et al., 2021). With the increased quality of the health and safety environment, the well-being of workers will inevitably come along (Smallman, 2001)
What Can We Learn and Embrace for The Future?
Rapid technological change is coming, and the productivity paradox is getting real (Brynjolfsson et al., 2018). The crucial question is, are we as a society ready to adapt to it? If not, what can we do to face the challenges? What are the government and the company’s roles? We must prepare ourselves to welcome sudden and unexpected technologies as humans never stop and will not— stop advancing technologies. Policy and regulation will play an important role in adapting new technologies into society while not holding back innovation and aligning with sustainable development goals (Patanakul & Pinto, 2014). Technologies’ capability in learning is indisputable, and it will get better. Moreover, researchers have found that technologies also getting— better at mimicking our strengths as humans, i.e., creativity (Joshi 2022), empathy (Wu 2019), and social presence (van Doorn et al. 2017). Humans must always upscale their skills to distinguish themselves from machines and technologies. More importantly, humans should not lose touch, which involves our hearts empathizing and weighing morals in our decisions. (RBA)