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10 October 2014

Will technology rob us of our humanity?

Jean-Marc Frangos

That’s the question posed by BT’s managing director of external innovation, Jean-Marc Frangos in a blog written for the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Jean-Marc’s blog was published during WEF’s ‘Annual Meeting of New Champions’ summit, held in China last month on the theme of ‘Creating value through innovation’.

The event saw leaders from the worlds of science, technology, business, government and civil society come together to call for an acceleration in the use of innovation and disruption to solve the world’s greatest challenges.

In his blog, which appears on the WEF website, Jean-Marc ponders whether the internet could be plugged directly into the human brain - so that ‘the sum of internet knowledge can help us tackle everyday problems.’

Enhanced humans

It’s a question that arose from one of a number of serious discussions on ‘enhanced humans’ which took place at the event.

Says Jean-Marc: “That’s what I love about the World Economic Forum. Great minds come together for challenging conversations all with the single intent of improving the state of the world.”

Jean-Marc writes in the blog: “The collective brains of the team went into overdrive on this topic. Science is already making a lot of progress in bioengineering, synthetic molecules, exo-skeletons.” 

“We started talking about plugging the internet directly into the brain. We explored sending impressions directly on to our retinas, without the need for cumbersome screens and keyboards.”

Only human

He continues: “We imagined how, in a few years, such a connection could empower you in business meetings but we also all agreed that there could be a danger of robbing us of our humanity by spoon-feeding us what to say in real-time.”

“That led us to address a new question - how can we make humans better without stealing humanity itself?