Home / Opinion / Online-views /  Human machine partnership—The next era

We are living in incredibly interesting times when digital transformation is revolutionizing the human landscape. The advanced capabilities of today’s emerging technologies are driving many academics, entrepreneurs and enterprises to envision futures in which their impact on society will be nothing short of transformative.

There are endless possibilities which the future holds. Thirteen years ago, for instance, no one could fathom a day will come when technology will help in managing the health of cows. Today, Chitale Dairy is among those making it possible. Each cow at the dairy is fitted with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to capture data that is held in the cloud. The relevant analysis of this data is then sent to the local farmers via short messaging service (SMS) and the web, to alert farmers when they need to change the cows’ diet and arrange vaccinations, among other things. The timely delivery of this information is increasing the cows’ yield, supporting local farmers, whose livelihoods depend on the dairy farms, and enabling Chitale to manage a part of the supply chain normally fraught with uncertainty.

Recent conversations, reports, and articles about the intersection of emerging technologies and society have tended to promote one of two extreme perspectives about the future: the anxiety-driven issue of technological unemployment or the optimistic view of tech-enabled panaceas for all social and environmental ills. Perhaps a more useful conversation would focus on what the new relationship between technology and society could look like, and what needs to be considered to prepare accordingly.

If we were to envision the world in the year 2030, the partnership between humans and machines will be reshaping lives. Machines will complement human capabilities and help them achieve greater efficiencies.

Partnership of the future

People have lived and worked alongside technology, or machines, for centuries--from typewriters and personal computers to the proliferation of smartphones in our daily lives. However, due to massive advancements in software, big data and processing power, we have entered a world with amazing new possibilities. We are about to witness a sea change in our relationship with machines--characterized by even greater efficiency, unity and possibility than ever before.

As technology power multiples 10x every five years, so will our reliance on technology. This will result in deeper, richer partnerships where both parties will bring their own strengths to the table.

Humans will bring skills such as creativity and problem solving, which can be applied against the background of human experience and societal context. And machines will bring speed, automation and radical new efficiencies. By framing the relationship between humans and machines as a partnership, we can begin to build capacity in machines to improve their understanding of humans, and in society and organizations so that more of us are prepared to engage meaningfully with machines. Hence this partnership, in the truest form, will create a more productive and agile future, enabling us to transcend our own limitations.

Productivity will reach new heights and new industries and roles will be created as a result of this new dynamic. Machines won’t replace us, but they will help us complete many more tasks.

Human beings as digital conductors

Today, more than 1,800 digital platforms exist that orchestrate our physical or human resources. Take the artificial intelligence (AI) devices we are seeing from Amazon and Google, for example—guided by machine learning, their personal assistants can be integrated into homes, cars and phones to do things like turn off lights, order items online, play music, book flights as well as offer tailored fashion advice.

In 2030, we will rely upon machines to manage even more aspects of our personal lives. We will effectively become ‘digital conductors’. Technology will function as an extension of ourselves, helping us better direct and manage our daily activities. Imagine a world where everyone has an AI assistant that goes beyond what assistants can do today—they will set up our appointments, help run our errands and farther yet, shape our vitals or alert us about elderly relatives needing immediate care. All of this will be done in a predictive and automated way, giving us access to what we need--even before we know we need it.

Redefining work

The implications of this partnership stretch well beyond our personal lives and into how we conduct business. The workplace will get a makeover in terms of how it finds talent, manages resources, delivers service and facilitates careers.

What we need to understand is that technology won’t necessarily replace us, but the process of finding work will flip. By 2030, work won’t be a place, but a series of tasks, which will be outsourced to the best talent across the world. Reputation engines, data visualization and smart analytics will make individuals’ skills and competencies searchable, and organizations will pursue the best talent for discrete work tasks. To identify the right person for each task, work will chase (or find) the right people. Imagine a future where organizations integrate virtual reality (VR) technology into work practices to enable people to collaborate across the globe and reduce personal biases.

In all things, whether it’s finding the right talent, teaching employees new skills or being able to call upon a whole menu of services at a moment’s notice, deeper human-machine partnerships will be the force for change in 2030. In the future, every business will need to be a technology business powered by software. Emerging technologies will reshape our lives and work forevermore.

In-the-moment learning

By 2030, in-the-moment learning will become the modus operandi, and the ability to gain new knowledge will be valued higher than the knowledge people already have. Not only will workers have many jobs, the tasks and duties of the jobs they will perform will be markedly different from what they studied. By 2030, workers will create new work infrastructures to acquire the skills and knowledge they will need to execute their work successfully. They will routinely improvise, learn from each other, and make their own way. Some will rely on past work experiences, frameworks, or mental models. Others will experiment across different platforms, discovering their own workarounds and pioneering their own innovations. These factors, combined, will seriously challenge traditional establishments. Most will partner with machines to learn while ‘on-the-gig’.

We stand at the very beginning of the Internet of Everything (IoE), an intelligent world pulsing with processing power and connectivity. Emerging technologies such as AI, Augmented Reality (AR), VR and robotics will accelerate and augment the digital direction we’re heading in. Underpinned by massive advancements in software, big data and processing power, we are entering a world with amazing new possibilities. Let’s enjoy the ride.

Rajesh Janey is president and managing director, India Enterprise, Dell EMC.

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