The Rise of AI / Machine Learning and the Future of Human Work

— CIO Review

 

By: Jagat Pal Singh, CTO, Cybage

A seasoned technocrat who plays a vital role in converting technical expertise into business objectives, Jagat and his team of technology –driven experts strongly support the Business Development group in harnessing new business and empowering Cybage’s technology strengths.

The world is moving quietly, but inexorably, toward a world that will not only change the way humans live and work but also divide the world economy, according to McKinsey’s latest AI report.

There are 3 ways to look at how AI is going to shape up future:

  1. The first one is from the individual perspective where technology adoption is going to be the key differentiator.
  2. The second one is from the organizational perspective where technology will play a role, but cultural alignment to a new human workforce will be crucial.
  3. And finally, the biggest impact of AI is where first-time technology has a potential to affect the geo-political strength of countries.

Let’s delve into each one of these aspects.

Individual

Darwin’s theory is equally applicable today and will always be. The only difference today is that it is not only about change, but more so about the pace of change. Today Moore’s law is being outplaced. Processing power is doubling much faster than 18 months. Skill has a new meaning. Your IQ is no more a differentiator. Your ability to use technology is. Unless you couple your IQ with your ability to use technology, you will be left behind.

There is lot of debate about job loss because of AI and robotics. I believe, like in the past, every new era created more jobs, and even this time may not be very different. USA may have already lost a third of its retail space. From mid-market clothing companies such as Michael Kors and Bebe to department stores such as Macy's and Sears, 2017-18 boasts of an extensive list of losers in the retail sector. And for every loser, there's a victor. The winners are consumers and Amazon shareholders.

 

Organization

On an average, we witness a lag of around 2-3 years between a technology’s availability in the market and its actual use. AI is going to change this completely because the pace at which changes are anticipated to happen, you will either have to adapt right away or prepare to be left behind. This means that the people who are going to use the technology are the ones who will decide whether to buy and when to buy. Lots of admin staff will have to soon rework their approach to work.

As we start relying more on technology, we will soon realize that 80 percent of the work we are currently doing was actually designed for robots and not for humans in the first place. Companies will have to create work for humans and that is not going to be easy.

The boundaries between personal and work time will cease to exist. Imagine a scenario, where your emails are analysed as you sleep and your calendar for the next day is updated in real time. Your alarm clock is connected to your calendar and the algorithm will wake you up based on when your first meeting is scheduled. You have practically no role to play here, algorithm will wake you up just in time so as to optimize your sleep and further enhance your efficiency. If 26 billion devices are going to be talk to each other, the future of how we work and how we live will definitely change.

By 2025, more than 70 percent of the working population is going to comprise millennials. This is a generation that is questioning the existence of universities, they are brought up in the digital world where all the information is available online. They believe in social sharing and collaboration Vs ‘I, me, myself’. For them, work and life are not going to be very different and as a result, organizations need to make those changes in work culture. If all you need to do work is an internet connection and a multitude of social platforms, why make life more complex?

 

Geopolitical

AI has the potential to widen performance gaps among countries. AI leaders will be far superior to the traditional emerging economies. For individuals in these countries, the demand and wages will grow because they will acquire digital and cognitive skills with expertise in tasks that are hard to automate. The countries lagging behind will be left with workers performing repetitive tasks that are easy to automate.

In country rankings today, USA and China are at the top, with the latter surprisingly having already overtaken the former in terms of investment in AI. In the US, the adaption of AI is driven by private players, while in China, the effort is being led by the government. 

The latest McKinsey report looked at five broad categories of AI technologies: computer vision, natural language, virtual assistants, robotic process automation, and advanced machine learning. 

There are many examples in the past which prove the real progression is not predictable. The person who predicted electric light bulbs replaced the initiative of continuous improvement of candles, cars replaced horses and so on. Not everything comes by virtue of evolution and this is true for the future of IT as well.