“When we have face-to-face interactions, the second our eyes make contact, we have retina lock-in. As soon as your retinas line up, your brain starts instantly producing new neurons specifically for that person. We physically change each other – that’s why is so much more powerful being in someone’s presence than over a screen.
“What I love about technology is we are learning more and more about ourselves as we advance,” he said.
Using virtual reality technologies, Dr Nguyen also created an avatar experience during a documentary for people still in the grieving process after they lose a loved one. The dark side of this of this use of technology was revealed in an episode of the popular British science fiction TV series, Black Mirror.
Dr Nguyen found that shortly after a loved one dies, having a digital copy or representation of that person caught in space and time and being able to have a conversation with that person can potentially ease the grieving process.
“If you are very close to that person, it can be a slightly traumatic thing but if you are slightly removed, it can be very positive,” he said. “That person at that moment in time can have conversations with their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren … so they get to know their ancestors.”
What happens over on the dark side?
In April, Tesla, SpaceX and OpenAI founder Elon Musk said that the future of AI was a scary proposition. Also last month, he co-signed an open letter to the United Nations with Mustafa Suleyman, founder and head of applied AI at Google’s DeepMind and 114 other AI and robotics experts asking to halt the use of autonomous weapons that the group say threaten a ‘third revolution in warfare.’
“What underlies a lot of what I do is that there are potential futures that could be very dark but that turns into excitement when I think, we steer where technology goes, especially those who understand it – but this is why we need more people talking about it,” said Dr Nguyen.
“We need people to talk about where these different technologies are taking us because regulations can’t keep up with the rate of change anymore. We need to make those decisions, we need to have those conversations and we need to be smarter as a society.”
When Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo systems defeated South Korean Go champion Lee Se-dol last year, Google researcher David Silver said the technology’s next role should be to advance human health.
“This was an incredible moment in time but suddenly all of the headlines have come out in all our newspapers and people start freaking out, thinking they are going to lose their jobs. That propagates this horror message – obviously we have movies from the past, many people think of The Terminator and The Matrix, but I think they are great warnings for a future that could be made possible and we are seeing those potential possibilities coming through.
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