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Will Technology Cause or Solve Humanity’s Biggest Problems?

Navigating the transformative effects of technology is the key challenge we face in the 21st century.

Feature piece
We are experiencing a transformative age, driven by technology, without precedent in recorded human history. Democratized access to information and communication tools offers countless new possibilities to a growing population, while astounding breakthroughs in biological and genetic sciences and computing promise a future e-topia of technological solutions that improve virtually every aspect of our lives.  

However, the impact of technology is not simply an expanded buffet of gadgets, apps and platforms that make us faster, healthier, smarter and safer. It is producing profound economic and social side effects, squeezing out inefficiency, eroding privacy, breaking down traditional hierarchies and expanding the gap between the haves and have-nots. 

The perceptions of the perils and promise of technology are nowhere more divergent than for artificial intelligence. On the one hand we witness the success and imagine the potential of systems like AlphaGo and IBM’s Watson experiment. On the other, we have the brightest, most innovative minds of our time, such as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, warning the development of AI leading to destruction of life as we know it. 

Navigating the transformative effects of technology is the key challenge we face in the 21st century. Whether individuals, organizations, governments or societies, success will be defined by the ability to seize the opportunities and manage the consequences of these forces. The evolving relationship between humans and technology is a core theme of study at the Berggruen Institute. In this issue of Berggruen Insights, we present various insights and perspectives from technologists and thinkers who have participated in our activities in the last couple of months. The ideas are not mutually exclusive nor collectively exhaustive, rather they represent the beginning of the conversation, in which we hope to include you, our reader. 

How is technology changing us? Will its benefits outweigh its risks? What are the social, political and economic consequences and how should we adapt? Please leave your thoughts, links to interesting articles and comments below. We look forward to hearing from you.