'Where are we now?' was a question David Bowie asked very beautifully in his 2013 single of the same name. The former star man always explored the frailties and wonders of humanity with music that moved generations. A reminder of what a human plus a guitar and a bunch of technology in a recording studio can achieve.
So when we consider the extract from Tom Chatfields' address at the launch of the Humanities and Digital Age programme, led by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities at Oxford University published in The Guardian today 'Where are we now?' is the soundtrack that plays in the background for me.
Because in asking what it means to be human in an age of technology, we find ourselves connected in our awe and bewilderment.
I found Tom Chatfield's analysis to be really beautiful in highlighting the potential for further human creativity and connection. If the advanced stages of economic capitalism breed alienation from our fellow humans, technology offers an incredible opportunity to bring us all together again. Human and Machine in harmony.
For those of us working in technology across the world it is important to feel the potential, the inspirational levels of achievement that are possible. The potential goes way beyond efficiency.
Only today I was in an NHS hospital in the Midlands that was using technology to transform patient care, efficiency was a happy by product of a very human improvement, supporting people at their most vulnerable moments. Pretty inspirational stuff.
So if you get a chance, listen in to Tom Chatfield's whole address and ask yourself what it means to be human in the age of technology. Are you embracing or resisting the potential of the next wave of artificial intelligence?
Technology connects us to each other as never before, and in doing so makes explicit the degree to which we are defined and anticipated by others: the ways in which our ideas and identities do not simply belong to us, but are part of a larger human ebb and flow. For the first time in human history, the majority of the world’s population is not only literate – itself an achievement less than a century old – but also able to actively participate in written and recorded culture, courtesy of the connected devices pervading almost every country on earth. The crowd in the cloud becoming a stream of shared consciousness. Rightly, fearfully, falteringly, we are beginning to ask what transforming consequences this latest extension and usurpation will bring.