What competencies are needed to become the subject of the future society? First, let’s ask if we can really be the subjects of the future society. Humanity is currently undergoing rapid changes day by day with the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This will bring us a future that no one can predict. People say it is necessary to be ‘competent’ in preparation for this scenario. It is necessary to seek and have the capabilities required in the future society based on technological development. This situation seems to suggest that we are subordinate to the flow of change.
It is no exaggeration to say that high-tech is the main pillar of the future society. However, there are always new risks behind innovative new technologies. Futurist Ray Kurzweil said, “We can no longer predict the future after 2045. This is because of Singularity.” This refers to a marginal area in which a machine or technology exceeds the speed of human control. It’s about reaching a level where we can no longer understand it anymore. It is impossible to be a complete exclusive property when it is out of our control.
Advanced technology compensates for human defects, while, at the same time, it forces humans to lose ‘subjectivity.’ The higher the dependence on machines, the more unnecessary human abilities will be replaced. Big data can overcome the limitations of human brain capacity, while artificial intelligence has excellent cognitive, computational, and data processing capabilities. Digital dementia is already prevalent among young people. This is an acquired disease that appears in the digital age, and it is a serious problem in which human brain functions are deteriorating, depending on device dependence. One of the alternatives we need in this future society is ‘reading.’ This presents opportunities for creative and active brain training through various modes of thinking. To protect the inherent realm of humans, excellence in empathy will become more important than intellectual excellence.
No one can be sure about the discussion of the future. However, now is an opportunity to gain insight into humanity’s subjectivity. The rapidly changing future society centered on technology is already heading toward singularity. As long as the concept of singularity exists, mankind is bound to lose subjectivity. I think we still have the initiative in the relationship between humanity and technology. Therefore, living in a future society without being conscious of problems that may occur can be very dangerous. To be at the center of the future society, you must always be awake. We can be wise subjects as long as we understand what is happening.
[The Department of Systems Biology, 20, Yonsei University]