The word “innovation” undergoes a full declension in recent years, substituting a wide array of terms used to describe something new or modern, especially in the technical or technological fields as well as computer sciences. I personally definitely prefer to use the term “rationalization” although, for older people still remembering the communist era, it may possess rather negative connotations.
Because what is the basic difference between these two terms? Rationalization holds the element of “ratio” (Latin for reason) in contrast to innovation which comes from “in nova” (Latin for new). And actually that is where the discussion concerning innovation could end. However, I will allow myself a certain reflection. What makes us human, and what are the risks for us to stop being that?
The futuristic visions of the world are as fascinating as they are terrifying. The speeding technical progress results in that various inventions more and more often substitute people in terms of every-day work, production, and services, while IT systems not only support us in making decisions but actually replace people in analytical and research works.
The proceeding works on artificial intelligence as well as autonomic devices and machines (for example robots, aircrafts, cars, ships) strive to completely replace man in many every-day situations, providing the sensation of unlimited time and freedom. What is more interesting, attempts are made for robots to replace caretakers or even friends.
In 1942 Isaac Asimov in his short story titled “Runaround” has introduced the three laws of robotics, later expanded by the zeroth law which states that “A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm”. However, the idea to restrict the actions of robots, for which artificial intelligence will constitute the base of their logical thinking in the near future, seems rather dubious to be executed in practice, if only for the reason that we are unable to predict what are the chances that a self-learning artificial intelligence which becomes aware of its own existence will detach itself from its initial purpose and consider humanity as the main threat. From there it’s just a few steps for the scenarios of many popular futurist books and films such as “Space Odyssey 2001”, “Matrix”, or “Terminator” to take place.
We are homo sapiens and not homo roboticus or homo innovaticus. The evolutionary development has equipped us not only with a circa 1,3 kg brain but most importantly with feelings and emotions – they evoke our reflections, respect for life, allow to distinguish good and evil, and thus make us human. Exchanging data, logical thinking, and controlling matter – these are the domains of machines. When trying to supervise these processes but excluding deep thinking we degrade our sensitivity, decrease our self-control, and become increasingly helpless against our own human reality. Striving for technical progress we lose our humanity more and more.
However, it is not about rejecting the things that take place in our civilization and what we owe to the technical progress. We should rather focus on what needs and challenges may be executed by our inventions, how to take advantage of them, and what is their purpose. This requires thinking not only about new constructions and production technologies but most importantly the goals and purposes.
Building and managing a company in such a manner which allows it to be able to notice the problems of the contemporary world and predict the needs of future consumers – in the context of the nearest business cycle and in a generational context – surely constitutes a challenge in itself. Precisely there is the most space for organizational and technical innovations, although based on rationalizing the marketing strategy which is understood as the totality of a company’s operation on the market, its touch-point with the business, social, and environmental surroundings.
The culture of listening to the surrounding should constitute the fundament of an organization which wishes to base its development on innovative thinking. However, it should be understood as creating deep relations with the interested parties and not only a primitive processes of researching consumers’ purchasing trends; reacting to the changing situations in reference to the broadly understood social needs and not organizing advertising campaigns which only goal is to increase the bars of sales charts.
In these terms a special role falls on the company owners and managers. Their attitude towards newly employed workers allows to open relations which significant element consists in inspiring to search for problematic issues, creatively generate solutions, share ideas, as well as appreciate and reward. Inspirations don’t come from thin air but from perspicaciously observing the world that surrounds us, as well as from empathy towards people and nature. However, it is a model of functioning which from the point of view of a company, even though it concerns all organizations and even the world of politics, should be systematized and focused on a strictly scientific approach which is distinguished by the fact that its goal is to search for facts, the impact of some phenomena on other, so therefore to search for the truth. Internet encyclopedias and search engines cannot do the thinking for us or separate the wheat from the chaff.
We admire terms which subject consists in the word “intelligence”. It can be accompanied by multiple adjectives (for example linguistic, logical, emotional, or social). But do we take into consideration the fact that intelligence as the ability to grasp phenomena and the surrounding world, up to this point regarded as characteristic for humans, may turn out to be not enough for us to maintain the dominance of our species on Earth?
Machines, especially those which are equipped by their creators with the so called artificial intelligence, cannot be viewed as humanity’s panacea for all of its problems. We have to always take into consideration that these artificial organisms, which are more resistant to environmental factors, stronger, more efficient and faster in performing difficult tasks, may want to free themselves from under man’s control and try to rebel against their creators. They will try to take control not only of their existence but are going to strive for the control over the entire world. The growing awareness of machines (perhaps a collective consciousness) combined with the ability to reproduce (understood as the ability to self-duplicate) and an evolutionary self-perfection will then predestinate them to be defined as the new dominating species, the “automatum sapiens”. And who will be there to stop them?
We need to think, contemplate, and reflect more – not only about where we came from, not only about the present day, but also about what future awaits humanity and the world. Otherwise, we may someday hear “Hasta la vista, baby”.
Maciej Iwankiewicz and Lukasz Wilczynski