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We have good reason to be optimistic about technology

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The Thunderbolt Kid is one of Bill Bryson’s best books. It describes his life growing up in Des Moines, Iowa, and has this haunting opening line. As I read back, the sheer optimism of small-town America and the world at the time shone through. Struggles, supply chains and industries have brought the world’s bounty to our doorstep. Science and technology will allow us to conquer the world., space, and even death itself.

Cut into today’s dominant narrative. This seems to be about how stupid technology has become. Nuclear weapons are rearing their heads again, social networks seem to be hollowing out an entire generation, and artificial intelligence (AI) threatens to unleash killer robots and autonomous weapons on humans to intimidate them, or at least take our jobs. there is. Advances in AI and self-driving cars fascinate us and fill us with fear. Will they replace human creative abilities? Destroy the last vestiges of our privacy and security? Destroy humanity itself? As we increasingly become taxpayers of their platforms and slaves to network effects and recommendation algorithms, Big Tech seems to be taking over the role of government. As investor Peter Thiel laments, “We wanted flying cars, but instead we got 140 letters.” plowing a lonely ditch as a tech optimist asks me cautiously why I am an optimist.In answer, I turn to three key advances. One of them he was the one who saved mankind and the other one was still able to save mankind.

The first such breathtaking discovery is the covid vaccine. Pandemics are the worst killers on par with asteroid impacts. The plague in Justania in the 6th century AD killed half the population, and the Spanish flu of 1918 killed between 40 and 100 million people. It was possible, but heroes like Katalin Calico, Ozrem Tulechi, and Ugur Sahin used the human cell’s own mRNA proteins to stop the virus. Created and scaled at breakneck speed, through other surprising developments such as sequencing and custom AI, rapidly identified spike proteins. As devastating and disturbing as this disease has been, we are incredibly lucky that these wonders have brought the planet back to life in just two years. The second cause of the ism is the incredible story of the universe told through stunning photographs taken by another technological marvel, the $10 billion James Webb Telescope. Launched into orbit by a giant Ariane rocket, we were able to peer into the near origin of the universe. We’ve seen her Glass-z13 born just 300 million years after the Big Bang. It reveals where stars are born, shows another star in a death spasm, shows Stephen’s quintet of galaxy clusters pirouette together, and one day has life forms as curious as we are. You might discover a planet. The telescope includes a mirror made of 18 separate segments that deploy with clockwork precision after reaching orbit, and a tennis-court-sized mirror that reduces heat from the sun by a factor of a million. It has 5 layers of sunshield.

Finally, there is another amazing gift of science. This revived my sense of wonder about technology in general and AI in particular. DeepMind, a deep learning AI company, has announced that the company’s AI engine, AlphaFold 2, predicts the shape of nearly every protein in the human body. In the coming months he expects to reveal over 100 million structures. This has the potential to change medicine in the same way antibiotics and vaccines did. Proteins are our building blocks, and the way they fold determines their function. Incorrect folding can cause life-threatening illness. AlphaFold has so far predicted 36% of the shapes with accuracy down to the level of individual atoms, which is enough for the development of new drugs.

With the world now plagued with depression by COVID-19, war, global warming, and recessions, it’s no surprise that many people don’t get the same positive emotions from technology that Bryson’s generation did. But seeing amazing stories like the three he mentioned above makes me want to believe again how technology can change our world. I believe technology is a force for good. someone has to

Jaspreet Bindra is the founder of Tech Whisperer Ltd, a digital transformation and technology advisory practice.

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