The human touch
The subject of "being human" has been on humans' minds forever. Endless libraries of books. Music. Movies. Philosophy, biology, law. Covered from every conceivable angle on any conceivable medium. Throughout history in any culture.
In modern time the meeting between humans and advanced technology – especially robots and software – has been a favorite subject in science fiction movies. The interfaces between humans and technology. The ultimate question of who is really in control. If software can develop a sense of self-awareness; a will of its own. Become fully autonomous. Maybe even decide that it no longer needs humans. Or worse – decides to wipe them out. Like Skynet. Or software and robots developing feelings. Like Hal from Space Odyssey 2001. Or the Nexus8 robots of Blade Runner. Asking for more life.
The most immediate reaction to technologies like AI is that people seem content they will be replaced. That AI will put them out of their current job. That no new jobs will be available. That the new technologies will induce mass unemployment.
TECHNOLOGY ENTERS IN HIGH PROFILE JOBS
This sense has been amplified as AI has proven able to perform tasks otherwise restricted to areas that used to require advanced education and capabilities. High profile jobs. AI screening x-ray images for cancer and suggesting treatment plans. AI practicing law. AI doing accounting – having the ability to audit the entire finances – not just a part – and doing it in seconds or minutes.
Doctors, lawyers, accountants and certain types of consultants being replaced by software. Students trying to figure out which way to go. PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte, Tohmatsu, Ernst & Young, and KPMG suddenly looking a little more dicey.
Some will differ – argue that oil, finance and production will always top out. The thing is, the "top dogs" are all tech companies these days: Google, Apple and the ultimate Death Star Amazon. If Amazon want's a piece of the action in your market, they will take it. They will not ask you politely first.
And if you didn't see Apple's most recent presentation, let us supply the real highlight: NO products presented – ONLY services. And just one more thing of course: A credit card. Fully integrated with your phone and wallet app. If you are in banking, you might want to pack a clean pair of shorts. As Microsoft founder Bill Gates once coined it: "We need banking – we don't need banks".
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD?
As we have stated over and over again, we see technology as an enabler. But with exponential technology the ONLY way to survive – to thrive and create new jobs, jobs we can't even imagine at this point – is that you shift your business model or significantly up your value proposition.
If AI can screen 3.000 images for cancer, the doctor can spend her time focusing on the ones that need a more careful investigation. If AI can do the books, the used-to-be accountant can shift his consulting to other areas. If AI can do the procurement, used-to-be-procurers can invest their time in building relationships and shift to high-level consulting on supply chain issues.
Operations – all the attention and time spent doing absolutely mundane tasks – has always taken the brunt of technology impact. And operations will feel the full effect of AI. But surely, that is a good thing. Then you get to do something else. Like being a human. Engage with other humans. Get out of your cubicle. Your mailbox. Do what you do best – human stuff.
The primary hospital in Denmark – Rigshospitalet – is currently carrying out a test in the intensive care unit. The project focusses on measuring 10 key parameters – blood pressure, heart rate and so on – continuously on all patients. But instead on relying on the current machinery and practices, patients have been provided with IoT wearables.
So far, evaluations are great on a number of parameters:
As they are no longer hooked up to stationary machinery, patients who can move about can actually do so and with absolutely no restrictions.
Patients feel very safe as their primary health parameters are being monitored constantly.
Doctors feel less stressed as primary health parameters are being constantly monitored. They no longer have to rely on just seeing the patients in the morning and afternoon/evening – perhaps overlooking critical issues.
Both doctors and nurses can make more productive use of their time. Resources can be directed to those patients who actually have a need – and especially when they have a need.
All data is available in real time – great for monitoring trends and triggering alarms.
What is true about all IoT sensors is that they – in a very significant way – opens for real and actual "prevention". As opposed to treating symptoms when they show themselves. As such, a technology like IoT wearables will create massive changes – not just in healthcare, but in insurance, security and damage recovery. It's not just humans that need monitoring. Buildings, infrastructure, goods on the move etc. The list is endless.
But hey: Surely new industries will be built on this basis. New jobs and job functions will emerge. Mostly some that require human interaction.
JUST ONE MORE THING
AI will never say "just one more thing". Most likely it will present everything first time around. But just maybe this points to what we consider a human element – intuition. But just maybe, intuition is the term we use for things we cannot explain rationally. And so just maybe, AI will just turn "intuition" into actual knowledge.
If you have time on your hands in the upcoming weekend, you could read the book/see the movie "Moneyball". It's on the subject of using data to challenge existing practices, common knowledge and intuition. Or read the first book of Von Clausewitz "On War" and ponder the "the fog of war" and the subject of "frictions". While you can.