Deep tech promises to contribute to the social and economic challenges we now face globally. However, I believe that technical innovation can only ever be as advanced as the collective values we live by. It is not the technology that defines how advanced it is, but the values which inform how we put it to use.
In 2019 Sir Tim Berners-Lee called for “governments, companies and citizens from across the world to take action to protect the web as a force for good”. As he explained when launching his Contract for the Web initiative, “If we don’t act now—and act together—to prevent the web being misused by those who want to exploit, divide and undermine, we are at risk of squandering that potential”.
While all people are familiar with the world wide web, and are increasingly aware of the use of algorithms which drive many web applications, not quite so many are aware of just how advanced technology has become, nor the implications of how it will impact on their lives once the next generation of biotechnologies are introduced.
To cite just one example, speaking at this year’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Nokia CEO Pekka Lundmark stated that by 2030 6G mobile networks could make smartphones obsolete once they become operational. The reason, as he noted, was that, “By then, the smartphone as we know it today will not be the most common interface. Many of these things will be built directly into our bodies.”
The fact that by 2030 technology will capable of being fully integrated into our bodies has huge ethical implications. These questions are not new, as can be seen in the concerns raised by Elon Musk in 2014 when he called AI humanity’s “biggest existential threat”. If AI becomes as intelligent as humans, and if companies like Musk’s Neuralink succeed in building computer-brain interfaces, then what are the implications for what it means to be human, and what are the risks from either criminal hacking or governmental social control?
Given that our technological solutions can only be as impactful as the level of consciousness and values which created them, we decided to write a Deep Tech manifesto to help leaders and technologists determine if their solutions truly are Deep Tech:
The Deep Tech Manifesto
- The purpose of Deep Tech is to use deep thinking to find profound solutions to complex problems;
- Deep Tech combines analytical thinking and artistic consciousness;
- Deep Tech creates augmented intelligence—the combination of artificial intelligence with conscious human endeavour;
- Privacy and ethics are core elements of Deep Tech algorithms;
- Deep Tech is developed by talented people who come from a rich diversity of backgrounds;
- The values of Deep Tech are the five universal human values of peace, truth, love, righteousness and non-violence;
- Deep Tech helps us to explore our world and ourselves in ever more meaningful ways, honouring what it is to be human in our world.
The manifesto starts by stating that purpose of deep tech must always be authentic, clear and understandable to those who are impacted by it. Solutions which appear on the surface to be beneficial to society, are not in fact vulnerable to being abused by those seeking power and control.
With this in mind, deep tech solutions are profound due to the manner in which both artistic as well as analytical consciousness contributes to the development. An example of this is in imagining how our experiences in the metaverse can be facilitated not only by virtual reality technology, but by artists, psychologists and designers who wish to create virtual spaces capable of helping us to expand our consciousness and think and explore reality in new ways.
The manifesto provides guidance for those developing artificial intelligence—stating that we should strive for developing technology that aligns with human endeavours rather than seeking to replace humans with unconscious code and algorithms. And that secondly, that ethics and privacy should be core drivers in its development.
As Musk announced in his planned takeover of Twitter, he wished to make it better by making its algorithms open source. While this of course is a laudable ambition, it must be said that making the algorithms of a platform as complex as Twitter is no simple matter, given that much private information would also need to be made public in order for outsiders to fully understand the reasoning and mechanisms of the code.
One additional issue with algorithms is that they often reflect the mental models and world views of those constructing them. Hence our manifesto calls for the new generation of technology to be democratic and built by people from diverse backgrounds and lived experiences.
The five universal human values of peace, truth, love, righteousness and non-violence in the sixth point of the manifesto represent the highest expression of humanity. Therefore the aim of deep tech—as conceived by us—is to ensure that all technological developments honour these five values and contribute to the evolution of humanity, rather than suppression, control and limitation. This can be done by searching for solutions that explicitly speak to what it means to be human in an ever more technology-dominated world, bringing people together in meaningful ways.
The manifesto presents a systemic view of how deep tech can evolve in a manner that is positive for humanity and conducive to the regeneration of our damaged ecosystems.
I truly believe in the power of technology to contribute to positive solutions for both people and our planet, but only when combined with an expanded form of consciousness and the articulation of the five universal human values. When leaders commit to this vision of deep tech, their approach to design and innovation changes, making their solutions more engaging and meaningful to all who it serves.
For further information about the Deep Tech Manifesto and how it cn be applied in the design and implementation of technology initiatives, please see Deep Tech and the Amplified Organisation and visit Holonomics.