Tech will help humans 'overcome our limitations' & Internet of Things misunderstood says IBM CTO Rob High

Rob High

Technology is advancing at a pace like never before and the work of global companies such as IBM, Dell and HP have never held such a profound impact on the world as they do today, which could advance in less apparent ways.

Speaking to The Drum, Rob High, vice president and chief technology officer for IBM Watson offered his thoughts on how technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) will advance human abilities, claiming that it would do so in ways that we can't yet imagine.

The Austin-born IBM executive met with The Drum in his home town during SXSW this year to discuss some of his thoughts on technology and AI advancement.

"When you think about what it was like 10 or 15 years before smartphones, could we then imagine the way that these things would impact our lives? I suspect that technology will impact us in just as profound a way and even more so than it has so far. I'm not sure we can fully predict how it is going to augment us other than to say that by helping us to overcome our own limitations we are going to start to begin to see the world in a different way and imagine the possibilities in a different way, make choices in a different way and be inspired in ways that people only have a slight hint at understanding now. It's going to be an extremely remarkable and fun time to live through these changes in society and the potential is going to be great for us."

Discussing the potential of IoT he claimed that the thinking towards the technical logo was more towards "instrumenting our world" with thoughts mainly turning towards data collection, which was not an entirely fair representation.

"What we need to do is think about IoT in terms of devices that convey meaning into our world," he continued, offering the example of a social robot and its ability to use different technologies to speak, hear and sense through the use of different sensors such as camera, speakers and microphones, which may help see and understand the world in a way that humans were previously incapable of.

"When you think about IoT in those respects then it begins to shift from simply being about the role that IoT plays today in the mainstream mind to an affective way of achieving much deeper relationship with the human. The advantage that IoT has is that it isn't limited to the five senses that we have, it can extend sensory input and output to many other aspects that could really be useful to our understanding of the world around us while extending those blind spots that humans posses. Those things that we have done in the space of astronomy, you maybe able to see other worlds through infrared and X-ray and sources of input that we don't have sensory capabilities for, this could expand our understanding of the universe and the world that we operate."

The Drum's next issue will focus on the role of humans and technology, working with Prince Andrew and his Pitch at the Palace project to explore the developing relationship between the two. The issue will start to hit desks from 20 April.

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Stephen Lepitak

Stephen Lepitak is editor of The Drum, with responsibility for overseeing the day-to-day running of the content produced for the various platforms run by the publication. Over the years he has interviewed agency network bosses such as Sir Martin Sorrell, Maurice Lévy and Arthur Sadoun, as well as Cindy Gallop, Kim Kardashian, film directors James Cameron, Spike Jonze and producers Harvey Weinstein and Lord David Puttnam. With a keen interest in media and breaking news, Lepitak has been with The Drum since 2005 and is based across its UK, US and Asia operations.

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