“The digitization of work and the dramatic metastasis of what used to be called automation are driving two massive changes: the outsourcing of jobs from industrial economies and the “robosourcing” of jobs from human beings to mechanized processes, computer programs, robots of all sizes, and still rudimentary artificial intelligence.” – From ‘The Future’ by Al Gore
Is this the beginning of the end?
Well may be, but I like to ask this question instead…
Is this the beginning and the end?
What do I mean?
I think we are at the “beginning” of a new age in which the previous years of technology breakthroughs have been just laying the foundations for today.
Pick any industry or aspect of our daily lives where technology has not had an impact?
Now of course we may not always be aware and if we are, we may not necessarily agree, but we have to recognise the incredible benefits that have come as a result of this technology.
Yes, on the other side there is an “end”.
Jobs will be replaced or just disappear. So it is understandable that for many, this continued change in our lives is threatening, particularly now that many of the creations of science fiction authors appear to be coming to life! Where this is heading is anyone’s guess and if you watched a recent British – American production on TV called Humans, you may have your justified concerns.
Now I am not old, well at least I do not think I am, but I accept I am an age now, where I have more life experiences to draw on than perhaps those a little younger. For example, I vaguely remember as a young boy going to a shop in my town where we bought ice by the block. Not plastic bags from a 7 Eleven store either. This was a specific shop that made and sold only ice and as kids my brother and sisters use to marvel at seeing this big block of ice come out of a machine and slide down a ramp. Then of course once we took it home, we had to cut it up! Interestingly if you go to the town where I grew up today, the original building is still there – only that they now sell surfing gear!
So what happened? Well of course technology evolved and new products and services and ways of delivery replaced that.
Am I sentimental? Yes, but I do not miss it!
Did that business of selling ice that way disappear? Well of course, but new ones came in its place.
This has been the story of civilisation – continually evolving and adapting. This is also the point I am trying to get across ins that we must keep evolving and adapting.
Automation and robotics are an incredible opportunity for business today as they are equally a threat. New ways will continually be explored, breaking paradigms along the way.
Who would have thought that today there is a sensible dialogue taking place about driverless cars? For example, just last September, the state government of South Australia, introduced legislation to permit on-road trials of driverless cars. During that time also, there was some negative stories of which one news paper was asking the question that if there is an accident, then who is at fault – the passenger or the driverless car? Mind you, for many years I have been taking driverless train rides at international airports in Asia!
The question therefore for you is this…
In terms of automation and robotics, what are the areas that will “begin” – your opportunities and what are the areas that will “end”- your threats? Because it is my view that these are the questions you need to be asking your self today. Otherwise you may be wondering why people are not coming to buy your large blocks of ice anymore!
Finally lets leave the last word to the Terminator in The Rise Of The Machines…