Every new wave of technological innovation and disruption solves a lot of problems, but it also creates new problems on a higher level. For example, the social media wave connected people all over the world and brought us unprecedented and real-time information exchange on a global scale. Social platforms like Facebook, You Tube, Twitter helped us to share information and develop our community on a cognitive level. But it came with a high price because we passed our goal a long time ago! Today we are overwhelmed with a constant flow of information. The business models and services of the world’s biggest companies are optimised for distracting people to sell ads instead of empowering them to fulfil their goals and purpose. So what will our future workforce look like? Will new technologies like artificial intelligence distract our future workforce even more, or will this technology empower our future workforce in ways we cannot even imagine?
The social media wave already enabled large-scale technological empowerment. For example: If you have an idea in the morning, you can crowdfund it in the evening on social platforms like Indiegogo, Kickstarter or fundable. And if your idea gained enough traction on these crowdfunding platforms, you will soon have sufficient funds to realise your idea and build it. Imagine: You want to develop a new high tech product to solve your problem, but you are not an engineer or developer and you don't know no how to start? No problem, simply use an online invention platform like Quirky. Submit your idea to the Quirky platform and many experts like engineers, developers and marketers start to gather around your idea and help you to realise your tech product within 14 weeks. It's that simple! Products launching out of these creative online and tech-empowered communities are evolving rapidly. For example, tablet computers with the same technical specs as Samsung, Apple or Google tablets. Or entire 3D printed cars that are fully electric. It's only the beginning. In the year 2000, it costs you $5.000.000 to begin an internet start-up, in 2014 this price dropped 99% to just $5.000. And today you can start for only a couple of dollars a month, just by using the worlds smartest technology and knowledge from the cloud on a monthly subscription basis.
Today's society is glued together by increasing technology. Information technology that obeys moor's law and therefore consistently doubles in price-performance ratio year after year. Exponential technology like artificial intelligence and robotics will become so good and so cheap that within 5 to 10 years from now billions of people all over the world will have access to it. We are currently entering the next big wave of innovation, a wave that will push everything we are doing to the next level. We are talking about the wave of artificial neural networks in the cloud. In other words, machines that can learn by themselves and start to mimic human cognitive capabilities. This new wave of disruptive technologies will transform our workforce in ways we cannot even imagine.
I believe that in the near future every job, routine, or task that is in any way boring or not worthy of our attention will almost certainly be automated by artificial intelligence and robotics. Will this be a bad thing.... I don't think so. I believe that artificial intelligence will augment and amplify human capabilities, AI will make us more intelligent, more productive and even more creative. And as a result, AI will advance humanity towards a more meaningful future with meaningful jobs. In the next five years, ordinary people will already be able to do extraordinary things by controlling extremely powerful technology simply with the use of their voice. Machines will deeply understand our language and gestures and will be able to fully adapt to humans instead of the other way around. This will enable entirely new levels of interaction and co-creation between human beings and between humans and machines. Self-learning machines will be able to learn and adapt in real-time and filter/reduce the daily information overload and make information relevant again to us.
In the next decade, our workforce will transform towards a global and purpose-driven workforce that is hyper-connected and always-on. Technologies like AI-powered real-time translation will lower the barrier to work with people all over the globe. People you co-create with will be on the other side of the world, but due to augmented reality, it will feel like they are present in the same room in full 3D. We will move towards a networked workforce as-a-service that is always on. There are already AI-powered workforce platforms that organise your entire workforce. Smart AI-powered software will help you to hire the right people at the right time and also manages all the boring stuff like payrolling for you automated and in real-time. This helps entrepreneurs to focus on the creative part of business again.
I believe that the next wave of technology will make our workforce more productive, more creative and more efficient. Smart technology will help us to reach our goals and to fulfil our purpose, instead of distracting us all day to sell us stupid ads. But like I said before, every new wave of technological innovation solves a problem, and at the same time, it creates a new problem on a higher level. AI will probably solve many information overloads and decision-making problems that we have today. But at the same time, it will create issues that we need to solve on ethics and moral level. The cycle never stops.
This article was originally written for the WorkForce Institute EMEA
Image courtesy: Microsoft