Robot Lover

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Matt Webb, Global Chief Technology Officer, Mirum

How Work is Changing for the Better in the Age of AI, Automation, and Autonomous Robots

If you look at the power of blurring advanced automation and robotics with AI, you start to picture a world where the once protected elements of a job (the computers can’t do this and neither can robots argument), are fewer and fewer.

You start to realize that a lot of your day, could in reality, be handled by an AI lead, droid version of a Swiss army knife or CleverDroids, as I like to call them.

My issue with this, is that it is easy to slip into the negative view of an AI takeover, where fully automated factories replace ones where humans are brewing cups of tea and whole departments shrink to the size of a server room ultimately leading to cities full of unemployed robot haters and social unrest.  (In the movie world this would all be set amongst a backdrop of litter and shot in washed out grey). 

The trouble is, I don't buy it.  I know this is naive, but I feel that there are areas of the world that could really do with more input.  Imagine a hospital - currently understaffed, given advanced robotics to administer medicine, deliver food, and move patients around - all overseen by the same wonderful doctors and nurses, but with less time spent doing the things that waste their time.  Or how about firefighters that can operate large life saving machines by using their minds alone?  Then there are the corporations that can afford to give people more training, because they are dealing with their employees’ time more effectively by augmenting their abilities with AI.

I know it has been quoted before, but I do subscribe to the notion that CleverDroids and AI will take parts of people's jobs, but not all of people's jobs.

The people on the other side of this, always quote the call centers, burger flippers and box packers - but think of every crappy job you have ever done, think of how many times you were doing that job and could have been doing something more worthwhile with your time.

Alternatively, think of the first person you hired, who had a degree - and all they had been doing up until you hired them was packing boxes.  Now, imagine if they had stayed an additional year in higher education being taught by an AI, CleverBot or even just online for that year - based on the preference you set.  Bingo, cheap, repeatable and customizable training. 

You might question, how would they pay to eat and where would they live?  Well, how about if that same college that was part funded by your firm, also had the license to print temporary smart homes and grow and distribute food more efficiently, and that all the students had to do was volunteer so many hours a week towards helping train others and feed the homeless…

You see where I am going!

I know my prediction isn’t flawless - but we ARE changing our work life, so while we are at it, why don’t we try and do some good with it.

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