I’ve been writing and talking about digital humans for some time now, strongly and assured they will enter our lives sooner than we expect. The other thing that keeps me thinking is the impact it will have on a number of aspects in society.
Ethics : how do we go about with ethical questions like, should we always have to show by a certificate or logo it is not a real human you’re engaging with?
Business modelling : Will they drill down costs for routine operations like making appointments, answering FAQs, and will there -due to their global scale- be only 2 or 3 dominant players worldwide that will speak 40 languages fluent?
Impact on jobs : Is the assumption that ‘robots’ (and digital humans) will steal our jobs correct, or will they create new jobs to design, train, and optimise them. Or -like in healthcare- might they help to cope with the burden of a doubling healthcare demand, by assisting in routine and repetitive tasks.
Photo Credit: Soulmachines
What will be the impact on education? Many students use Khan Academy as their tutor. Will digital humans be added to such a service or will it disrupt even Khan Academy and others by offering a 24/7 interactive teacher?
One thing we do know : we have no clue what so ever at the moment. At the moment i’m thrilled to see what they can do, i see clear benefit, but i also see challenges we'll face. Seeing what our friends over at Soul Machines are doing makes me wonder even more : Will there ever be a time where we don’t need our body anymore?
It is at the intersection of technology and patient empowerment, which is where Lucien Engelen (1962), director of the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre REshape Center and advisor to the Board of Directors (since 2007) feels most at home. The two worlds combined into the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre and Singularity University in Silicon Valley & the Netherlands and in the Nordics, his modus operandi is always challenging, sometimes provocative but always techno-realistic. Writing on a new book that will be titled "Augmented Health(care)™ : The end of the beginning" (May 2018, Barcelone Spain) as he thinks we're at the end of an era of creating awareness, pilots, proof of concepts etc in the digital transformation of health(care). More on that on, his Linkedin Page has over 750.000 followers. He is Faculty Global Health(care) & Medecine since 2011 at Singularity University's Exponential Medicine in the US and in the Netherlands.