« ALTA Good Deeds Foundation Awards $105K in Grants | Main | ALTA Survey: Digital Closings Increase, but Barriers Slow Adoption »


ALTA ONE: The Future Leader

HarfoushTechnology is rewriting the rules of society. Between innovations like artificial intelligence and automation and the daily flood of new apps, gadgets and digital tools, it’s easy to get lost in how quickly and profoundly our world is changing.

During an Omni Session at ALTA ONE, Rahaf Harfoush discussed what it means to exist in a world where human characteristics are being replicated by machines and examined how technology is weaving itself into the social fabric of our lives.

Harfoush, a digital anthropologist and executive director of the Red Thread Institute of Digital Culture, focused on the intersection between emerging technology and digital culture during her presentation titled, “The Future Leader.”

Harfoush opened talking about a company called Replika, a chatbot companion powered by artificial intelligence (AI) that doesn’t just talk to people—it learns their texting styles to mimic them. A paid premium tier of the program allowed people to have romantic relationships with their bot friend.

“Is it ethical to build a business designed to gamify intimacy?” Harfoush asked. “Research shows that every one of us could fall in love with technology.”

Harfoush said people have become addicted to their phones. She cited a study that found people touch their phone 2,617 times a day. When we check our phones, the brain releases a small amount of dopamine. “What if you gave an individual 2,600 doses of a drug a day?” Harfoush asked.

She continued by saying that the constant use of smartphones hinders innovation. To innovate, requires de-stimulation.

“The brain needs to be calm. It means you need to be bored,” Harfoush said. “We’ve created this cycle where we are never bored.”

At work, there’s the contradiction where we’re always encouraged to learn new tools and prioritize urgency. However, there’s a cost associated with interruptions. Businesses in America lose nearly $650 billion per year due to employees being distracted at work.

“Focus has become an important skill to develop and strengthen,” Harfoush said. “As a leader, you must practice time away from your phone and concentrate on tasks. You can have the best tools, but if you can’t focus, it won’t help your business.”

She encouraged attendees to examine all the technology used in their operations to see if it’s helping or causing disruptions.

“We are moving to a new iteration of the web called generative tech,” Harfoush said. “These tools are so fast they can create content for us. We risk losing the mastery of thinking if we’re not careful about how we implement tech tools. Anytime you implement a new technology, leaders need to know what skill set is needed to keep being developed to get the most out of the tool. If you have weak knowledge systems, it will collapse your process.”


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment