Synthetically engineering our future.
Where will technology take us and what role will we as humans have to play in the creation of our own future at work?
Max Eaglen, Director of brand consultancy, Platform, ponders the future that humans will play in the workplace.
There is a point of time somewhere around 2045, according to Futurist Ray Kurzweil, when our lives will be profoundly and irrevocably changed. At this point, computers, or rather AI, will surpass humans as the smartest kids on the block – a super AI intelligence that has long since passed the Turing test (when a human is unable to distinguish a computer from another human) and is now able conceive ideas that no human has thought about in the past.
Depending on your viewpoint, it’s a future of opportunity to do great things or a deeply unsettling thought, and something that many will choose to ignore or refute. But the signs are already there that AI is beginning to sow its seeds in ‘virtually’ everything that we do – context aware web search, autonomous cars, drone delivery, Siri answering your emails and Google’s Virtual Assistant booking your appointments.
Businesses that don’t adopt the technological advances that we see becoming mainstream may struggle against those that do.
We all know that today’s race is the race for data. More data means more insights and more intelligence.
As we delve deeper to discover the possibilities of what our clients’ working and personal lives might be like in 2025 and 2050 and beyond, I can’t help thinking “Where will technology take us and what role will we humans have to play in the creation of our own future’?
As we exponentially create these new dynamics are we as human beings equipped to be part of it? Are we synthetically engineering our businesses without the luxury of time, of evolution? Without wanting to get too philosophical on the subject, when in our early history did we develop a conscience? And is it a foregone conclusion that AI will do the same?
Just how this all plays out is something in which we should all have a say, but in the mean, non-virtual time, how should we, as human beings steer our businesses and use these technologies in a way that that helps, rather than competes with, humanity?
At Platform we have developed a 3D virtual city to show clients how technology will help facilitate efficiencies in the future - an interactive city that can help clients navigate their way to learning about all the clever technologies that will one day make our lives easier – from buildings that efficiently manage their energy requirements and occupancy, to smart roadways that manage traffic flows, from neural lace technologies helping us to cloud enhance our ‘brain power’ to precision farming and 3D printed buildings.
It helps to see technology in an ‘everyday’ context, it helps us to understand how all that big data may actually help us. Its also quite empowering to work ‘back from the future‘, to see how and where these technologies started to appear and to think about how we might leverage them in positive, helpful ways.
Digital technologies have influenced our working methodologies and how we work as teams - remote, distributed, flat hierarchy, agile playing to our strengths. They enable us to extract, process, utilise huge amounts of information and make informed, rational decisions bringing new solutions to a problem.
We are already seeing examples of automation of tasks in the workplace.
social media sentiment analysis for customer services centres, chatbots, automated hiring tools, meeting room booking systems, autofill, digital signatures, advanced workflow automation, call/meeting transcriptions, machine learning contract reviews.
But, as we are integrating more digital technologies into our workplaces are we providing more space to think or more tools to do more work? And how do we, as fallible human beings, stack up against self-learning computer power, who can disagree that life has become busier and more stressful for most?
As creators of this technology the choice of where it leads is ours, we should make choices not just on the advancement of technology for technology’s sake but for the betterment of humankind.
As for what role we play in business of the future. The answer I believe is to weave tech into life and life into tech so that it tells us what we could do, but not what to do.
I love technology but I also love being my own boss, I like making decisions, I like gut feel, I like taking calculated risk, I like being informed, I like owning my future. I know I get it wrong sometimes but, fundamentally, our fallibilities are what makes us evolve.
If we consider technology to be the answer to everything then we also seal our own fate.
If we use technology to help us grow our business do things quicker and allow ourselves to be more creative, inventive, inspiring, different, unpredictable, spontaneous, compassionate, caring, considerate then I believe we will be on the right track for many years to come.
At Platform we embrace technology. We love taking journeys with our clients into Smart Cities to illustrate what their place in the world might be in the future. Yet we imagine people in that city. People making the decisions about how that tech will evolve and guiding clients on the right way to facilitate that tech. Not just making tech for tech sakes but for human’s sake…