DELPHI, Greece – Technology is one of the noblest attainments of humanity’s intellectual capabilities, but its positive aspects cannot overshadow its darker sides, Greek President Prokopios Pavlopoulos said in his opening speech at the official opening of the fourth annual Delphi Economic Forum on February 28.
Pavlopoulos stressed that the institutional and political defences of Representative Democracy have a certain degree of resistance to protect human civilisation against the potential incursions of technology.
“We must take the responsibility of our actions; otherwise, next generations will pay a hefty price, they do not deserve,” Pavlopoulos said.
Delphi Forum increasingly attracts global thinkers
On the slope of Mount Parnassus, once considered the centre of the ancient classical world, the Delphi Forum is not just an economic conference but also a well-established annual meeting point of global political leaders and thinkers aiming to identify the main emerging global trends, assess their implications, and review the resulting challenges and policy options confronting decision-makers of the wider Eastern Mediterranean region.
The main theme of this year’s Forum – which features an extensive line-up of sessions, more than 500 speakers from around the world, and over 2,500 delegates and 200 accredited members of the press – is “The Challenge of Inclusive Growth”, placing Greece’s need for structural reforms and new leadership strategies under the microscope, with the aim to explore a new model of governance.
The atmosphere is highly charged politically as national elections in Greece must be held by October.
“Modern man’s relationship with technology and its achievements are fraught with contradictions, even more so in recent years. These are not contrasts, which could be compromised through a dialectical synthesis, but actual contradictions generated, on the one hand, the justified pride the creator takes in his creations,” Pavlopoulos said, adding, “Fear, almost subconsciously, fuels the composite emotion that results from the mixture of the paradox and the absurd. This mixture is, ultimately, the awe felt by the creator when his creations begin to operate outside the scope of his designs and expectations. It is even more acutely felt when the creator thinks that he may be about to be surpassed or displaced by his creations.”
Pavlopoulos noted that the ramifications and causes of these contradictions can explain why modern man is incapable of synthesising individual elements of technology with the objectivity and competence required by science. The universally accepted theory of the supposed Four Industrial Revolutions is a classic example of such a deficient scientific project.
Are we truly in the midst of the fourth Industrial Revolution?
“This notion upholds that we are experiencing the fourth Industrial Revolution. This notion can only hold true if it is believed that the first and second industrial Revolutions brought about by the entry of the ‘machine’ in the production process – a distinct domain of economic activity – initially as a facilitator and subsequently as an amplifier is directly aligned with the third and the fourth Industrial Revolutions,” Pavlopoulos said, adding that these latter Revolutions are not exclusively economic and were caused by the emergence of Informatics and remain in full play after the conjoining of Informatics with Artificial Intelligence.
According to Pavlopoulos, the two latter revolutions differ significantly from their predecessors The differences are purely qualitative and should be ascribed to the fact that informatics and Artificial Intelligence bear no resemblance to the “machine” that dominated the first and the second Industrial Revolutions.
They also transcend the boundaries of economic activity as such and cover the totality of everyday life and action down to the most imperceptible details. “If we wish to be scientifically accurate, we should say that we are experiencing the second phase of the Technological Revolution which resulted from the coupling of Technology and Artificial Intelligence. Therefore, after the first and the second Industrial Revolutions, we entered the first Technological Revolution and we are currently going through the first stage of the second Technological Revolution,” Pavlopoulos said.
Difficult to assess the consequences of technological progress accurately
The Greek President explained that it is not the technological structure of the Internet that naturally leads to the degradation of knowledge and science by “fixing” them to a level where they are sterile accumulations of potentially false or erroneous information. On the contrary, this is the effect of a simplistic manner in which modern man enters the world of the Internet and lives in it, as if it were a distinct universe intended not to facilitate human lies, but rather to transform it totally and in such a way that Man will “float” in trivial fantasies.
Technological unemployment does not constitute an ineluctable or deterministic side effect of technological progress, Pavlopoulos said, adding that it is true that this form of progress is causing the loss of jobs in several long-familiar employment sectors.
Concurrently, it generates a bleak atmosphere of uncertainty and marginalisation for the members of society, who are the victims of this astonishing social and economic transformation. “Nothing prevents us from using the new means of technology in order to replace, to a great extent, the jobs that have gone with new ones. In this way, each one of us would be enabled to contribute to the society to which he belongs in accordance with the coalescent and complementary principles of Equality and Excellence,” the Greek President said, concluding, “Let us not grow oblivious to the fact that the institutional and political defences of representative democracy have the necessary resistance to protect humanity against the potential incursions of technology.”