mandag 29. august 2016

Predictions about the future

Predicting the future is hard. Maybe even impossible, at least to get it right...
I started my talk on Wednesday with some quotes from different people, about the future, that turned out not to be right (the theme for my talk this time was the future, and what kind of skills we need):

Lord Kelvin, who was a  physicist and an engineer, and a smart guy, said in 1883 that X-rays is a fraud, and in 1895, Machines that are heavier than air will never be able to fly.
Dr. Lee de Foster, who was an inventor (he invented vacuum tubes), said that Man will never go to the moon, no matter what kind of scientific break-throughs we might achieve. 
Marechal Ferdinand Foch was a strategy professor, and he said: Air planes are interesting as toys, but they will never have any military value. 
An engineer in Boeing said, in 1933, when they had just built a plane (Boeing 247) that could take ten people: We will never build a bigger plane. 
In 1943, Thomas Watson, who was the president of IBM, said: I think there is a world market for maybe five computers. 
And Ken Olsen, the founder of Digital Equipment Corporation , said in 1977 There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.
Naturally, people laughed. Then I got a comment that there were very few quotes by women (there were none, and I had several more quotes in total - by men), so I told the audience that maybe I would say something stupid that could go into the history books (I really don't think I will go into the history books :P). I pointed out that I think that where these predictions go really wrong is when they say never.  You should probably never say never, or something meaning more or less that. Then I think I managed to be just as definite, and potentially silly, as these men (it was a joke when I said that I could say something stupid for the history books, but maybe I did it anyway)...

When it came to my "predictions" for the future, I talked about how computers may take the role of diagnosing patients, instead of doctors. Already today the most powerful computers are actually better at diagnosing, and come up with a plan for the best treatment for the patients. So will computers take the job from the doctors? I honestly believe that computers will be very important in the diagnosing part of treating a patient. Maybe we won't even meet doctors before we've actually been diagnosed - we'll "just" meet nurses? Maybe we'll only meet the doctors when we actually get to the hospital, with a diagnosis that a computer already made, after checking all kinds of symptoms and health data, and comparing them to all medical knowledge (that a person could never have)?
I was quite certain, though, that I don't think machines will ever replace the "human touch" - we need to actually see and talk to people, not machines. But after I had finished my talk I realised; I had been saying stuff like "I don't think doctors will ever be replaced by machines. Of course, machines will never replace the human touch, we'll always need to see and talk to actual people when we're not feeling good...", but what do I know?
Maybe one day, I can be quoted on "silly things people predicted about the future"; It may be silly that I said that machines will diagnose us, instead of doctors, or it may be silly that I said that we'll always need to see actual people in the doctor's office, and that a machines can't replace the human touch. Time will show ;)

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Last week was shitty work wise, by the way; Alexandra got sick just after two days in school, and then so was I - just four weeks after I started my last cure of antibiotics, I've started a new one. Fingers crossed this time it will finally help(!)

My talk in Bruges is coming up very soon (two weeks to go), so I'm going to - I have to - make this week count <3 One step towards being (much) more productive is that I now start the SelfControl app when I wake up in the morning, and thus block all the different (disturbing) web pages until noon. The plan is to give myself a little "procrastination break" at noon, and then I'll block everything for five more hours. The reason is that, recently, I've spent too much time procrastinating in the morning, when I get into the office, before I start the SelfControl - it has actually gotten out of control. Therefore, measures have to be taken ;)

video
Alexandra and me wishing everyone a great (and productive and fun!) week <3





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