Witty warning of changes ahead for humanity

Television host Nigel Latta talks about the future. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Television host Nigel Latta talks about the future. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Television host Nigel Latta urges people to prepare for the future, to accept making mistakes, and also explains why people fly round the world rescuing others from caves.

Born and raised in Oamaru, Mr Latta has degrees, including an MSc in marine science, from the University of Otago and, in psychology, from Auckland University.

He yesterday gave a witty and wide-ranging talk to about 230 people at Otago Museum, during the New Zealand International Science Festival.

He urged them to prepare for the loss of many existing jobs, through rapid technological change.

''There are ways we can be ready,'' he said.

Learning more about the ''Stem'' subjects - science, technology, engineering and mathematics - would help to prepare, but humanities skills, including in communication and writing poetry, would also be important.

Robotic systems had already made restaurant bookings by phone, he warned.

Many jobs people once thought were safe, including bus driving and being a clinical psychologist, would be greatly changed.

Automated driverless technology had already replaced some drivers.

And, in future, some patients might also prefer to share their problems with a robot, which could offer more knowledge and less embarrassment than a human psychologist.

New Zealanders also seemed overly concerned with avoiding and punishing mistakes, but it was better to make some mistakes and learn from them, than not to try new things, he said.

Some people insisted humans were inherently selfish, but he disagreed.

''The idea that humans are selfish is just not true.''

That could be seen from British and other foreign cave divers flying in to help save 12 youngsters and their football coach from a flooded cave in Thailand.

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