Machine joins the workforce, and an algorithm gets a seat on the board.
Automation is the past, present, and the next big thing. For a long time, getting robots and software to work for us has been the Holy Grail of business. In theory it makes everything cheaper, more reliable, more powerful and it frees humans up to work on creative projects. It’s not new. Ever since the industrial revolution, we have looked for ways to extract human labor from the means of production and replace it with smart systems. We have had this debate about machines and the change in the workforce skills with every one of the three industrial revolutions. And I expect this debate to continue for many more revolutions that are going to occur much more frequently over the coming decades.
The best way to manage the future is to handle the present. I believe that the benefits of the Industrial 4.0 will take a decade to fully manifest. While the benefits of Industrial 4.0 to the end consumer are huge, many enterprise companies that were not born online (like McDonald’s, as opposed to Uber or Airbnb, which were started online) are yet to operationalize Machine Learning models. While there are new technology platforms coming online at an unprecedented pace – the systematic handling of post-deployment issues, and institutionalizing of governance, privacy, security and ethics is long ways off. This gap in what is possible, and where we are today creates abundance of opportunities for those entering the workforce or upskilling to stay relevant to the new industry.
My goal is to demystify the Industrial 4.0, and share my thoughts along the way in a series of ten posts, of which this is the first.
“A wave of change is sweeping, for good or ill, relentlessly across the land. It began quietly, but those that charling its rapidly mounting momentum predict that before long – perhaps two years – it will to some extent touch the lives of practically everybody. It is called Automation Revolution. It is, in truth, a revolution: nothing like it has happened in industrial history. For this reason nobody can tell for sure where it will lead.
Some say it holds the ultimate promise of undreamed of happiness in a society of superabundance wherein man is liberated at last from the drudgery of labor. Others see it as juggernaut pushing ruthlessly onward, headless of human goals and dreams and threatening, in the end, to reduce mankind to a depersonalized slag heap caught in the uncompromising grasp of few technocrats with black boxes.”
– Jules Loh, Sarasota Herald Tribune; Mar 7, 1964.
There are three reasons why today’s transformations represent not merely a prolongation of the Third Industrial Revolution but rather the arrival of a Fourth and distinct one: velocity, scope, and systems impact. The speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent. When compared with previous industrial revolutions, the Fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace. Moreover, it is disrupting almost every industry in every country. And the breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance.
In this season of politics, we have two of the three remaining candidates talking about revolution – bringing back income parity and and bringing jobs back to the country. The rationale being given, all true in my opinion, is how automation and trade deals have created the huge income gap between the middle class and the rich of the country.
Like the revolutions that preceded it, the Fourth Industrial Revolution has the potential to raise global income levels and improve the quality of life for populations around the world. At the same time the revolution could yield greater inequality particularly in its potential to disrupt labor markets. As automation substitutes for labor across the entire economy, the net displacement of workers by machines might exacerbate the gap between returns to capital and returns to labor. On the other hand, it is also possible that the displacement of workers by technology will, in aggregate, result in a net increase in safe and rewarding jobs.
Divergence Academy, Divergence Data, and Divergence People are three entities delivering Digital Transformation initiatives today through Education, Solution integration, and Talent solutions respectively.
Original Post on LinkedIn Pulse