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There is that future that never happened. You know the one, we're flying around with jetbacks and kids are riding their hoverboards. A future where smart glasses were ubiquitous and redos (a la Black Mirror) kept us all in check. Our homes we’re all going to be connected, and 3D printers would sit pretty next to our microwaves. And lets not forget the well mannered personal robots that were eagerly waiting to greet us at the door. Yeah, so much for that.

At a recent talk for innovation outfit 100% open, I was hoping to have a computer help me write my speech. But the thought made me kinda ill, and the effort that would be involved appeared more difficult than just writing it myself. So I showed a video of a robot sambaing which actually set the tone just as nicely.

Big surprise, that the future we thought would happen didn't. What occurred instead however still constitutes a new era. We’re now in the age of the Centaur. Man and machine work beautifully (for the time being) in concert. Today we plan and design for the Centaur of tomorrow. This means a total rehaul of banking, healthcare, education, the military and beyond.

Perhaps the best example to illustrate this, is the community-based navigation App, Waze. While its algorithms provide the traveller with real time data, the human touch provides the context with traffic updates. And now traffic police also feed the hungry Waze Centaur to help manage their workload, and of course, optimise safety.

And now the same robots that were once reserved for our dull, dirty and dangerous jobs have infiltrated the creative industries. They dance, sing, paint, play, and write. They code, cook, laugh and cry too.  The question remains, how will we creatively collaborate with robots? Will robotic art and artificial creativity make us feel the same way as human produced works? Will creativity itself be reframed to include machine-only masterprices and the computation in creativity be dropped all together?

Being Human in a Digital Age

Humans have long entertained the possibility of communing with the machines, exploring them as servants, or using them for sexual gratification. Drones already carry out deadly wars on behalf of governments. The fascination is not always with the gadget on the or the algorithm that powers it, but about the shifting definition of what it means to be human.” - Gillian Terzis in The New Philosopher.

 

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Some of the brightest minds on the planet have come together at the Future of Humanity at Oxford to help map out the rise of our mechanical mates. They predict that in about thirty years, 2049 to be precise, a robot will have written a New York Times bestseller.

The advent of machines will compel us to reframe our own creativity. It will urge us to rethink our meaning and contribution to work. And it’s going to make us a whole lot more human.