E. Vasudevan and Arvind Katageri
Centre for Behavioral Excellence,
Talent transformation, Wipro ltd.
Will Humans be Replaced by Technology – Remaining relevant in future
It is 7 AM in the morning, Ramesh is off to work, as he gets into his self-driven car, the display unit auto-starts and reads out the mails which he has received. While driving, it asks for instructions on what needs to be done to each of the mail, it follows Ramesh’s instructions and types mails accordingly. All this happens while Ramesh is already on the way to work. He gets off the car and enters the office building. As the lift door opens, a camera on the door recognizes Ramesh and confirms whether he needs to go to the 27th floor, to which Ramesh nods affirmatively. He gets off the 27th floor and walks towards his cabin. A few minutes later, he is greeted by a Robot T21 who says that their client has asked for a new feature to be built in the software solution. Ramesh tells T21 to go ahead with the new development and revert in some time as to how it functions. Ramesh is surrounded by Robots,screens, and devices that interact, talk to each other and all of them are fully wired. There is nothing that the devices don’t know that Ramesh knows.
The alarm rings and Ramesh gets up bamboozled looking here and there. He then realizes that all this was a dream, smiles at himself and gets off the bed. Though currently dream, is such a situation unimaginable in reality in near future? According to us- absolutely no! We are already looking at technologies and platforms like artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, etc which have made inroads in an individual’s life.
This should not come as a surprise to those who are keen observers of the rapid changes taking place all around us. The prediction is that as we move further in life, the lines between the capabilities of man and machine will continue to blur. A lot of work being done by us will be done by the devices. And given the situation in hand, many organizations will need this kind of an arrangement to stay relevant. Having said that, as individuals, how are we preparing ourselves to be pertinent in future?
Few software companies have already automated most of the processes.For e.g., AI is being used to detect patterns and enable a user to take decisions. In banks, credit officer’s roles have considerably reduced or have become non-existent due to deployment of credit scoring analytics solutions. Moreover, machines have moved beyond pure data analytics and have entered onto the human emotions realm. Face/Gaze recognition & body-movement recognition software is being prototyped and tested for shopping malls and airports to differentiate between a genuine customer and a probable crook. Tests, to perform surgery all by a robot than a surgeon are underway. Law firms have started deploying AI to reduce the mundane work of research on law case studies and judgements, which was done by law interns….
While one might get shudder with the thought that, we might become redundant in future; the good news is that it may not be the case if we remain relevant by putting in some efforts
If a question is posed to you on why is a human relevant till today, what would be your answer? It is the ability to apply “Thoughts”, “Emotions” and/or “Intuition” simultaneously or discretely.
Thoughts enable us to:
- Think rationally – recognizing patterns and build perceptions.
- Reason- Why and why not.
- Read between the lines; understand the meaning from the story, metaphor etc.
Emotions enable us to:
- Emote: Express / manage emotions like anger, sadness, envy, happiness etc.
- Values, identify priorities with its relationship to aspirations, desires, etc. keeping in mind the emotional strengths
- Interpersonal and social impact: How one connects/collaborates with the stakeholders, communication of feelings like love, hatred, compassion,like, dislike etc.
Intuition enable us to:
- Think instinctively; knowing and managing what is self and not self.
- Safe guard interests, self, and boundaries.
- Impulse and gutsy courage to act and take decisions.
When we look at the battle of Humanand Machine and correlate them with the thoughts, emotions and intuition as mentioned above; where do you think we are advantaged? Well the answer lies in the question itself. Looking at the trend, it seems that most tasks given to the machine is pertaining to thoughts. One can talk of cognitive learning where AI, predictive analytics and automation can play a major role. We need to get ready for some adverse impact on this side which will be managed by a machine sooner or later. We, Humans, are privileged with managing self and other’s emotions and intuitive decision making. We have to upgrade our application of these gifts to a wider extent going forward. In no era, the onslaught of technological advancements will replace humans. It is unimaginable. The option that we have is to work in harmony and a symbiotic relationship with machines. Though there has been multiple experiments to enable these machines to recognize emotions, they would still lack human touch,won’t they? E-motions as it is ‘energy in motion’, humans would play a major role in connecting with people, keeping them engaged, motivated and energized. Which means that the core of building trust and relationship would still need a Human touch. On the other hand, to achieve accuracy, speed, quality, or any other tangible outcome, machine will be of immense help. Finally, intuition will be required to make decisions where instincts will play a major role. Furthermore, machines will not be able to make many common sensical decisions and would prove to be counterproductive and ineffective.
It is easy to upgrade a machine by updating either the hardware or the software. In contrast, adapting and getting used to frequent changes for a human being is a transformational journey. The understanding of this aspect and starting the journey as early as possible will help us be relevant in this fast changing technological world.