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25 things with Xero’s Craig Walker, part five

5 things that worry him about technology


How AI evolves and the impact that we permit it to have socially, economically and politically will become of paramount importance over the next decade. The impact on employment could be vast and new advances in technology could hurt low-skill, low-wage workers as well as higher skilled roles such as financial managers and physicians. AI will eventually reach the singularity point where it will be able to programme itself, while it also designs and manufactures the robots needed to expand its physical computing infrastructure, posing the question: what role will humans play in this brave new world?


Deciphering the difference between a core technological trend from the latest buzzword is a skill that everyone in technology fails at one time or another. Don’t get distracted by the technologies that are currently listed on every job board – it’s more important to have the fundamentals right so that you can make pragmatic and reasoned long-term decisions. 


I’ve never been a fan of virtual reality (where you submit to an entirely virtual world) over augmented reality (where the virtual world enters the real world). The world (including me) has already become addicted to their smartphones and being constantly online. VR adds more virtual layers to that world – can you imagine a live concert where everyone is wearing VR headsets?  


As more and more data is generated by everything we do, the less private our lives will become. We’ve already seen how much Facebook and Google know about us by the tailored ads they show us online. This has now manifested itself into our political process. An election is no longer won purely on policy, it’s who can target each individual constituent based on their individual data profile. We need to make sure we have clear governance over the data we generate as individuals and businesses. 


We’ve already seen the impact fake news can have on an election. Automated “bots” with ever-increasing levels of artificial intelligence create noise that detracts from real events happening throughout the world.

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