Robots and automation seem to be making everyone obsolete. Some of us will remember the Terminator movie with Arnold or the Matrix, which predicted such events. Even recent thinkers, who are on the forefront of technology and brilliance like Hawkings, Musk and Gates, question the power and impact of artificial intelligence.
I sat with a friend the other day discussing this. Not just AI, but robots, driver-less cars and such. The conversation started with a topic near to me, which is the reduction of the role of salespeople. Will there be a concept of sales in the future, or will we be talking and negotiating with a pre programmed robot? What will our future sales experiences be? People have clearly shown an ability to buy over the internet (not everyone of course but more people that anybody ever predicted); automated checkout is now close too. When will we completely automate sales, and purchase? Introduce Robots? Who will actually be in charge?
This concept permeates not only in sales, but as AI gets better, it may find itself into all jobs. Think about that, your entire career as you know it could be an entirely computer based process someday. It will start with the lower level, task based jobs. We see that with Sales, the death of simple or task sales, i.e. the door-to-door sales person. Then it will make its way to more meaningful and complex tasks.
In my lifetime, we might start seeing Robots and AI taking over software development and decision processes. Frankly the thought frightens me. Is this how the people who built horse carts felt when the first car rolled off the factory floor? What will happen to all those jobs, will we even have a concept of working or jobs?
The logic is obvious for businesses. You have a cheaper, consistent, 24-hour workforce. But there’s a flaw, we will have no jobs and surely a business needs consumers with money to be able to buy their goods?
I sat and pondered this for a good part of the week, even in the midst of all the terrible news happening otherwise, close to me. My first thoughts were that of, what would we all do? Then I followed a logical thought – we had the industrial revolution, which brought forward new jobs, then the technology revolution, which did the same.
What will be the next revolution if all the jobs we now know get downsized to AI, robotics and drones? Exploration, that’s it! We could leverage robots in exploration, with a little more progress. Agreed that we can teach AI to learn, but can it learn fear or manners (anyone remember Microsoft failed attempt artificial intelligence with Twitter)?
What this all boils down to is many of us have no idea what the next 20 years of us might bring, be it colonizing Mars or with us all picking up the garbage of failed AI attempts. I generally think it is somewhere in the middle. We will still need intelligent people to innovate, but many task-based jobs will be automated. Or maybe the brain will concur the universe, I’m not sure?
- On July 13, 2016