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26 Apr 2017

Man vs Machine - What does the automated future look like?

In the 21st century we have seen technology boom with more people realising that computers potentially hold the key to an easier life and are ultimately the way of the future.

However, with new technologies fast emerging such as robots, artificial intelligence and machine learning, it causes concern for workers across various industries with many raising the question, how will all of this effect employment?

A recent study by PwC suggests that by 2030, robotics and artificial intelligence could affect almost a third of UK jobs, with 30% of existing jobs in the UK at risk of automation compared to 38% in the US, 35% in Germany and 21% in Japan.

Jobs within the transport, manufacturing and retail industries, which involve more manual labour, are set to be more at risk of automation than those within health and education, where a level of ‘human touch’ is required.

With work essential to human well being, it’s imperative that as a collective we focus not on the fear of losing our jobs, but on the positive impact AI can have in the workplace.

Learning to work with machines and not against them means that although the nature of jobs may change, they won’t disappear completely.

Robots in the workplace are becoming more profound, with different industries applying the technology to help with more administrative, routine based tasks which many of us are happy to offload.

This gives way for people to naturally apply their skills and take on higher-value work, which requires human intervention and in return helps to improve efficiency and productivity.

How will AI affect different industries?

Smart leaders are already implementing AI systems as tools to promote and increase productivity, although this looks different across various industries.

Remaining as the top area of investment in AI, healthcare is just one of the industries already applying the technology, with algorithms and software improving the quality and availability of healthcare services.

For example, doctors are currently using machine learning to help with early diagnosis of illnesses which are naked to the human eye, they are predicting outcomes, providing treatment advice and improving overall patient care.  

When it comes to education, AI is the next giant leap in learning with the potential for the technology to revolutionise how teachers teach and pupils learn.

As class numbers grow, teachers need support in being able to provide an educational experience which meets the needs of individuals, which is why AI powered digital services such as Whizz Education and Gojimo are becoming increasingly popular, as they can provide students with a more personalised education not only inside, but outside of the classroom.

However, with human teachers vitally important in initially rolling out and developing AI within education, there’s no evidence to suggest that robotic teachers are set to take over anytime soon.

So what can organisations do to introduce AI without causing concern amongst staff?

Organisations need to determine the areas of their business which AI will affect the most,  looking specifically at the roles where human intervention remains a must and where automation can take a firm presence.

AI is a topic which should be high on every CEO’s agenda, with communication vital, as boards need to explain the benefits of having AI to all employees. Ultimately the future relies on how the technology will cooperate with humans rather than replacing them.

Humans should focus on their strengths and look at how they can work collaboratively with machines of the future.

As American writer, Elbert Hubbard once said:

"One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.''

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