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The robots are coming!

Discussing the impact of Artificial Intelligence on business and society

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I. J. Good

We are on the brink of a dramatic transformation

Already, robots and increasingly intelligent software systems are taking on ever more sophisticated jobs. But where is this heading?

We are used to automated production lines and self-service machines in place of assembly line workers and checkout staff, but are organisations sufficiently prepared for robots and intelligent machines taking on the knowledge based tasks that we thought only humans could do?

New technology developments present real challenges for business, policy makers and wider society:

  • what changes will this mean for the global economy and levels of employment?
  • what value is placed on human behaviours, skills and understanding?
  • where is the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) all heading?

Our latest discussion paper explores the real challenges that AI presents for business, policy makers and wider society.

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The second machine age is already here

In the past, new technologies replaced manual work in certain sectors and environments, such as manufacturing production lines. This new wave of technology advancement is different because it has the potential to automate the work of skilled knowledge workers as well; financial traders replaced by algorithms and medical staff by digital diagnostic tools.

The emergence of a model of work based entirely on interactions between machines – the "autonomous economy" as identified by W. Brian Arthur, Economics Professor at Stanford University – risks rendering swathes of jobs obsolete as digital processes communicate with other digital processes to create instructions and take decisions.

infographic
White collar jobs at risk
54%

A human advantage?

Despite the increasing sophistication of technology, some argue that there are still many human qualities that machines cannot easily replicate. But for how long?

We can already see significant progress in machine intelligence across a number of human capabilities.

Sensing

Sensing

Taking in information

  • Image recognition
  • Voice recognition
  • Text analysis
  • Access to internet
Thinking

Thinking

Processing information

  • Remembering the past
  • Reasoning and planning
    (structured and unstructured)
  • Creating new ideas
  • Learning and evolving
Interacting

Interacting

Using information

  • Communicating with humans
  • Communicating with machines
  • Ability to act directly in the physical world

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What's next for AI?

As AI evolves in the future, meeting and subsequently exceeding the capabilities of humans, more significant questions will emerge around the risks and rewards associated with the technology.

What next for AI

Taking action

While the future is uncertain, it is important that business leaders evaluate and respond to the opportunities that automation and AI technology offer.

We encourage organisations to take three simple steps to better understand and prepare for a future that is very different to today.

Step 1

Establishing a horizon scanning capability

This will ensure that your organisation keeps abreast of the latest developments and is well-placed to capitalise on early opportunities that may arise.

Step 2

Create scenarios to explore alternative possible futures

Seek to understand how your market and business model will look in a more automated world. Then develop actions based on their implications.

Step 3

Establish a team to explore the impact of automation

Look at staff development and training, and how to derive the maximum value from the human qualities, skills and discretion of employees.


Contact us

At PA Consulting Group, we help our clients look to the future and design an organisation or business model that is fit for the future rather than built to succeed in the past.

To speak further to a member of the team about establishing a horizon scanning workshop, scenario planning or exploring the impacts of automation on your organisation, contact us now.

Rob Gear

Rob Gear
PA digital expert
 
 

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