Preparing for Robots, IoT, Hybrid Intelligence, & Mixed Reality
Hybrid intelligence is going to dramatically change knowledge work. It will be a productivity multiplier for people in any information-rich field (lawyers, doctors, engineering, etc.). In a BYO dual-use world, privacy will be more of a challenge especially with the advent of contextual computing and IoT.
The emerging virtual reality and mixed reality developments are going to have a transformative impact on the scale that mobile computing has had. This includes the death of big screens and redesign of user interfaces. The robots are coming, but not with the intelligence we attribute to them. IoT is coming out of traditional embedded systems and surrounding us with the potential for huge efficiency gains, but also significant privacy impacts.
Information Technology and the Next Billion Non-Office Workers
Technology now has to go where the work is done. That means in crazy environments like oilrigs, farms, mines, manufacturing lines, etc. Often these environments have no network connectivity. Even if you successfully deploy equipment, managing and maintaining it in a network-poor environment can be challenging. You don’t want to disrupt the current workflow when providing this technology; you want to make it better.
Delivering technology into environments where people are fully engaged with the environment can be challenging… for example, when the worker is already using their hands and moving around. Often you are providing technology to the non-tech savvy. On production lines this means the right information, at the right place and the right time.
Gamifying the system can also help make manual processes more efficient. These systems can avoid problems and cost instead of just detecting them. Training needs to be fast and simple. The Light Guide Systems turned training that used to take hours into 1.5 minutes. Reducing complexity is key to getting high performance and reducing stress.
When applying operational technology you need to be data driven and show real gains. This means you need metrics and a baseline. There is an “I think I’m doing just fine on my own” mindset that you can only overcome with hard data.
The rate of change in labor markets has dramatically increased. We are forcing people to adapt more quickly, which is something we need to prepare people for. We can have workforce displacement like the Detroit car industry or be more like the Australian car industry. Detroit was devastated as a city. Australia is retraining people, promoting startups, and allowing people to more easily go where the jobs are.
There is no such thing as a human asset on a corporate balance sheet. People are considered an expense, yet the machines the company owns are considered assets. You can earn more by raising the value of people (amplifying) than removing them (automating). This is a challenging perspective to grasp for many corporations.
How can we improve work in the short term? Make it easier for people with important work to connect with people with the talent to do that work. Where jobs compete for people instead of people competing for jobs. The future could be dystopian (terminator man versus machine) or utopian (iron man = man plus machine). Ultimately it is in our hands.