Think Info

Exploring the information space

Why technology and humanity must work together (ICC2014)

The day-two keynote at Intelligent Content Conference saw Barry Slaughter Olsen look at the world of translation, to show how computer-driven services may be expanding the resources we have available to us, but they are not a threat to real professional services.

Have you ever read Tolstoy? Can you imagine his work being translated by Google? The nuances of language – the expressions of human experience, the emotional subtext – cannot be understood or captured by a computer. The process of creating, especially where what we create is intended to stir emotional resonance, is an inherently human activity. On this basis alone, there are some things that computers as they currently function will never be able to handle, so the people skilled in those disciplines will always out-perform them.

This does not mean that humanity and technology cannot work together. They can. We see it happening all around us.

There has been a shift in recent years in the way service provision interacts with the user. We used to have a spectrum that ran from high touch to low. But always, there was some active participation from the provider. Now, this spectrum has extended to the concept of “no-touch,” where the service is pulled – through technology – by the user: an automated and generally-good-enough version of function.

The interesting flip side to this no-touch revolution is that while, as end consumers, most of us are more than happy with the broad brush approach we receive when accessing these services – especially the instant response time – we struggle to place ourselves on the other side of the equation: as the provider of a professional service, we want to provide quality. We abhor the good-enough solutions; we want to craft art.

The use of technology to lubricate service provision – to enable the no-touch approach, while providing stepping up to low and high touch services – is a revolution. No one can imagine what the outcome of this will be… not even (perhaps especially not) the experts. (Did any of the smart people who got together at Clinton’s behest in 1992 to talk about fixing the economy make any mention of the internet?) But that is what we are facing: revolution.

Structured and intelligent content is a revolution. Its time has come. The rules and architecture of structure free up content, allowing it to flow. We need to grab attention, to promote this revolution. The progress of civilisation depends on it.

Raw notes

  • Content creation is an activity that is inherently human.
  • Technology is the lubricant that will allow human language and language sciences to work together.
  • When Clinton brought all the smart people into a room to talk economy in 1992, not one person mentioned the internet.
  • The high-touch to low-touch spectrum has expanded.  We now have no-touch.
  • No touch is where technology resolves a situation without any human input.
  • We deal in intellectual property, ideas, speech.
  • Who thought facebook was just a passing fad? They still haven’t figured out their business model, but have shaken things up.
  • Presidents are not going to talk to each other using phone translation. It’s too risky. We need professionals.
  • With technology, we want everything and we want it now,
  • When we are on the creation side of the instant-demand technology, we want to provide quality, which takes time.
  • I can’t see Tolstoy being translated by a machine. Because it includes too much that is the human experience.
  • Humology: the perfect blending of humanity and technology to optimise potential.
  • Technology is science. Human content creation is art (a cognitive activity).
  • It isn’t about the money. It’s about the doing and the making.
  • Intelligent content is truly an existential matter. We need to grab some of the attention to make it happen.
  • Fear is what keeps us from doing many of the things we should do and would like to.
  • No one can imagine the resultant outcome of a revolution. Where will this information revolution lead us?
  • Communication in the 21st century still has a human element.
  • The rules and the architecture of structure actually free up your content, allowing it to move.
  • Encountered a new idea today? Act on it. Do something with it. Realise the value.
  • “The art challenges technology, and the technology inspired the art” John Lasseter

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