Posts Tagged ‘Utopia’

Automation is consistently happening all around us. Self-checkout lanes and computerized cashiers have become a norm these days in most retail outlets (fast-food coming soon). Self-check in is becoming the norm in airports and hotels.  Customer service inquiries are handled by a human voice powered by artificial intelligence. Passenger jets fly themselves, surveillance drones fly themselves. Cars drive themselves, lawns mow themselves and rugs vacuum themselves. Just-in-time production giants (such as Walmart and Amazon), depend on highly automated logistical systems to meet demand head-on. Office employees in the business of managing something that somebody else is managing (middle-office employees), are finding their non-value adding processes replaced by process aligning and analyzing software. Even Doctors are being slowly replaced by software and Doctor Robots.

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None of the aforementioned is new and has been predicted by Moors Law. Moore’s law refers to an observation made by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in 1965. He noticed that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits had doubled every year since their invention. Technological growth is exponential and so is its application in real life. The rate of technological change that impacts your life tomorrow will always be faster than today. Think of how far automation has come over the last 10 years; take the squared root of that number and we get 3.16 years. That is how long it will take from this moment to achieve the impact of technological innovation that took 10 years to achieve prior to this moment. There will be a time when there is a technological singularity and Moore’s Law is no longer applicable; that will happen when Quantum Computing becomes a norm.

 

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I’ve personally experienced several corporations making the shift from human capital to technological capital. The reason is obvious – to cut costs. No, companies aren’t trying to make checkout lines more convenient or customer service more pleasant. Greater Productivity – People = More profit. Yes, there are instances in which automation benefits the societal good (EZ Pass lanes), but there are always sacrifices that must be made to the status quo.

The exponential emphasis on technology as we progress to the future will cause a paradigm shift in which humans will slowly start to merge with the technology around them. This shift has already begun in most of the developed world. People are already connected 24/7 to smart devices, computers, digital media and virtual worlds of gaming. The level of intimate connectedness with technology will only continue to accelerate as humans become one symbiotic entity with their technological tools. If you are thinking of movies/novels like – The Matrix, Terminator, Star Wars, 1984, Transcendence – then you are on the right track. The future, 100 years from now, will be a blend of sci-fi novels of our current time.

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The current world population of 7.3 billion is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100, according to The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Have you seen the traffic density in places like Mexico City and Bangkok? With an exploding population, self-driving cars are inevitable. With classical careers taking extreme shifts over the next decade, people will start to become more useful as passive participants (instead of active participants) in an automated world. Over the next few decades, educational curricula will begin to shift more heavily towards technology. In other words, you will need to understand how the machine that is doing your job functions. Areas of specialization – such as Finance, History, Pharmacy, Education, Retail, etc. – will become secondary to understanding the mechanics of the technology that is the active participant in the automated world. The unemployed population (which will be very large) will survive from the ample amount of resources and government subsidies.

Telecommuting and virtual conferencing will become nominal, not occasional, in the next 10 years. Population growth, overcrowded highways and environment eroding emissions will ensure that this change happens sooner than later. Expect virtual classrooms, drone deliveries for everything (including groceries and prescriptions) and augmented reality to replace travel. Once again, general K-12 & College curricula will focus on STEM fields and all other subjects will take up less than 20% of an instructor’s time (robotic or otherwise).

The rapid velocity at which technology shapes our society is truly astounding. It is important to maintain a robust skill-set in order to not become obsolete and replaceable by a machine. Active participation in the workforce will require an even more impressive resume in the future. The future won’t be utopic or dystopic; it will just be. You can’t change the direction of the wind, but you can adjust your sails to always reach your destination.