Planet Leadership Series
02 Jun, 2022
13 : 01
Would you trust artificial intelligence (AI) for a cure if you fell ill? Are you concerned doctors may rely overly on AI diagnoses and, indeed, could AI replace doctors in the future? As AI 'doctors' are often more precise and detailed than human practitioners, what impact will this technology have on medicine and other aspects of life? The torrent of technology and virtual immersion sweeping our lives has become an everyday reality. How will we deal with the resulting challenges?
Tencent cofounder Mr Vic Lee, the guest speaker at the second session of our Planet Leadership Series (PLS), talked about 'survival' in the technology jungle. Under the interwoven influence of technology and education, the next generation will develop unique ways of thinking and exploring lives. This generation will adjust its lifestyle to find an optimal balance between happiness and freedom.
The 10 May PLS session — "The future is at your doorstep: Humans vs Technology" — was honoured to have Mr Lee at the Yew Chung International School of Hong Kong (YCIS Hong Kong) to talk with our students and an online Yew Chung Yew Wah (YCYW) audience. He touched on how technology is evolving and changing the world, the responsibility of tech creators, and the recalibration of education.
Mr Lee saw his signature winking penguin icon grow into an instantly recognised household image as the tech giant exploded on the internet. In 2008, he was chosen as 'China's Outstanding Chief Information Officer' by a major Chinese IT magazine. He then switched tracks and launched the Catalyst Education Lab Foundation and Virtus Inspire Ventures (or VI Ventures). As the father of a young child, he often ponders and reimagines the future of the next generation.
1. The advance of AI
According to a McKinsey report, by 2030 almost 50% of work-related tasks will be replaced by AI. Technology and the internet are driving society forward like a giant wheel and they have become a part of daily life like some phantom limb. With the advent of the pandemic, online teaching became the new normal. Of course it cannot wholly replace face-to-face teaching but it has offered continuity during a disruptive time. The arrival of virtual reality marks a time for serious reflection in the fast emerging tech jungle. Humans need to control technology while simultaneously taking advantage of it to remain competitive.
Technology is a silent but ubiquitous force that affects human behaviour, alters rules and scripts, challenging tradition and rendering many conventional goals and pursuits worthless. It can be hugely disruptive. So, how do we harness the energy and power of technology to fashion a better world?
2. The power of an open mind
According to Mr Lee, progress is defined as: "Material abundance for human beings, more choice, as well as spiritual tolerance and goodwill among people and nations". In a fast evolving world, he encourages students to build awareness of global complexities and inter-relationships. He urges them to think holistically and to constantly reflect on their decisions and choices. This is the way to eliminate blind spots. Individual happiness is rooted in each person's world view and aspirations, he says.
3. Venture adventure
Smoothly shifting gears from operating a pioneering technology giant to step into venture capital, Mr Lee has huge aspirations for education and other fields. YCYW students were clearly inspired by this tech pathfinder and entrepreneur. They took the opportunity to ask a number of questions, about the metaverse, non-fungible tokens (financial digital blockchain data), maintaining the balance between technology and privacy, and the impact of tech on society.
Nowadays, technology has become an inseparable part of life — consider online learning, shopping, and food delivery. YCYW students pondered whether the pandemic had made humans too dependent on technology. Mr Lee felt that in the long run tech would undoubtedly have a positive impact on society but human relationships could be imperilled if face-to-face communication continued to come down. This was an area for re-examination.
Mr Jarret Deme, YCYW Curriculum Officer (Education Technology), was part of the roundtable discussion. Mr Deme works on usefully integrating emerging technology into everyday student life. He had an interesting question. Might teachers lose their jobs to AI or robots over the next 20 years? Mr Lee said schools may need to rethink teaching environments to come up with setting where young people could experience new things. And by employing technology, teachers — and the education process — would become more efficient. Tech would enable teachers to better motivate young minds and cater to a range of needs. In short, he felt, technology will facilitate education, not hinder it.
Mr Lee candidly shared how he overcame his toughest challenges — through collaboration. "Personal success depends on making the best decisions," he said, and this entailed working well and openly with others.
4. Happiness can be a goal
Difficulties that confront us in the future will only increase. This means we need to develop a positive mindset to embrace change. "Set your goals in pursuit of happiness," he exhorted students. Constant examination of one's life and choices will help stay on top of things. He stressed the importance of uplifting the disadvantaged rather than just focusing on wealth: "In order to create a warm environment, society should pursue the success of all ordinary people, and not just the success of influential people.”
Mr Lee shared his favourite quote from the Austrian poet Rilke: "The future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens”. What this means is that thoughts conceived in the present are what are shaping the outlines of tomorrow.
5. A technical relationship
Mr Vic Lee urged YCYW students to re-examine the relationship between humans and technology. He emphasised critical thinking skills and adaptability would be increasingly important in an ever-changing world. The ability to recover quickly in the face of setbacks is the key to progress, he underscored, along with self-reflection, an ability to understand capabilities and limitations, and keeping an open mind.