Not a month went by the last two years without attending a technology conference and I have noticed that lately, we talk more and more about emotions, values and ethics in life. While at the beginning of the 'hype' we only had an eye for the pure tech, we now are increasingly discussing the subtle side of the technology.
Is this a new evolution that is arising in the AI world?
The future of jobs
The topic of job losses through artificial intelligence and robots remains a major concern at large-scale international events such as the World AI Show in March which took place in Dubai. Predictions are hard, especially about topics such as automatisation, AI and robots. What is a robot anyway? It doesn't necessarily have to be something like a replica of a human being.
From an economic point of view, a robot is a technology that was previously carried out by humans. From this perspective, our future does not seem so promising. Let's take a more critical look at this.
Will AI replace jobs?
Yes. Obvious. Why did they invent it in the first place? Or better, improved it. Because AI is nothing new. So why should we ask the same question time and time again? Of course, it will replace jobs, because it can make life easier, better & faster.
Up to 800 million global workers will lose their jobs by 2030 and be replaced by robotic automation - McKinsey, 2017
In the meantime, it will create many new opportunities, jobs that we do not even know today. But more importantly, with the evolution of AI and robots, humans will become even more valuable because of their emotional qualities. People still want emotional understanding. Even the smartest robot cannot understand the needs and feelings of us, humans. So, when it comes to robots that completely replace people in the workforce, I don't see any such thing happening.
This being said, bearing in mind that many fundamentals must be respected before starting to implement AI.
What is needed?
Do you remember my Professor Samir El Masri from last year, who predicted the Digital Tsunami? I refer again to my previous articles where he warned everyone that those who want to undertake a digital transformation without a digital business model will FAIL. Hard words, but again I have been hearing these stories at the World AI Show.
You will fail without a digital business model.
I heard success stories coming from all over the world. They all have the same things in common and almost all shared the same strategies and tips that I now love to share with you:
- Have sufficient know-how about the technology and the possibilities to implement the technology.
- Start with a digital business model because small changes can mean a lot in an organisation.
- Quality of data is the key: if you put garbage in, you get garbage out.
- Change management is the heart to success.
- Work together with different partners to come to a proof of concept.
Fear not robots!
Returning to the subject of work loss and underlining that robots are a technology that can/will perform tasks, which was previously done by humans, is now the primary returning question that society asks: "What will be left for people?"
For the record: we are not even close to AI. Let me refer to the words of Mr Tariqs Qureishy during the World AI show:
"The development of AI is still in its earliest stages and can be compared to the intellectual capacity of a cockroach."
Two demos with robots during the two-day conference went wrong due to 'miscommunication'. The robot didn't 'understand' the speaker! What a surprise. It made me unbelievably nervous. As a communication expert, I go nuts simply because communication is not going smoothly. That's why I'm not yet eager to talk to a robot.
I don't ask Siri for help, and when I need assistance, I rely on my true Personal Assistant, not on Alexa. I also prefer walking 20 minutes to my nearest bank office so I don't have Eva on the phone (the robot assistant of Emirates NBD). Luckily I have an account manager, otherwise, I would have changed bank.
The reason why I don't want to talk to a robot at first is probably because I'm not patient enough to talk to it. Not only because of the human aspect.
Secondly, you can't interrupt a robot. I have seen that already many times during demos. The presenter wants to rescue his almost failed demo by interrupting the robot by asking new questions, followed by the robot that again gives the same answer or even completely wrong answers. Hilarity for the audience, frustration for the organiser.
Demos like these were just proof that AI is still in its infancy and when asking the audience, only 5% of them uses Siri or Alexa.
I am a true believer that relationships don't work out without proper communication. This also counts between humans and robots. Lost in translation, I call it.
Still, a lot of work to be done...
So yes, robots will replace automatic jobs, but it will never replace humanity.
Communication & Ethics?
I left the conference with a few questions in mind:
- Why is everyone so eager to talk to a robot when they fail to communicate in real life?
- Sooner or later, will we want to come back from all these technologies and return to the fundamentals and ethics of life?
- Last year at a conference we only talked about technology, now it's about three-quarters technology and the rest is about ethics and emotional intelligence, how will this evolve? Will people have an even greater need for morality in the AI-world/jungle in a while?
- Is AI just a 'hype' or is it the future? I think both. We have to use it smartly, otherwise we will regret it.
AI has still a long way to go. The technology we already have enough. Let's not forget Love, Humanity & Sustainability! We are still miles away from AI and even way further from superintelligence, so in the meantime,
- let's celebrate failure
- let's celebrate curiosity
- let's celebrate diversity
Soon AI will be everywhere. Digital transformation is a journey, not a destination, so we better enjoy the ride.
Let's get back to basics from time to time and always remember our real values in life, or we will end up, running to the real jungle, to find peace and rest. Far away from the artificial world.
We all love technology.
But do it with your Heart, with a Purpose and with Love. Of all the success stories I've heard during the World AI Show, that's the last advice I can give you.
After all, what is the meaning of artificial intelligence without business context?
"AI is a way of seeing the world. It's not only a technology, it's a mindset." - Oussama Berqi - Head of Data at Careem (Unicorn & bought by Uber for $3 billion)
Written with a Passion for Human & Technology
and with Love,