The more I think about it the more I am convinced that automation forces us to revisit, re-evaluate and rethink some of the fundamental “building blocks” of society. Think finance, business, work, energy, health and law. But this is not going to be easy. Take the example of work. Broadly speaking, we can distinguish between two schools of thought, even among those who accept that automation will soon transform the workplace. The first group points to the emergence of mass poverty, wealth inequality and new forms of social exclusion as a result of automation depriving large sections of the workforce of employment opportunities. The second group takes a more positive view. They are convinced that we will find ways to deal with these issues. They believe that those groups that have traditionally performed routine work will be able to find alternatives. But, in one important sense, it does not matter which group you belong to. There is no right answer. The crucial point is that the future is open and everyone is going to have to “think different” in the creation of a new automated world. The use of a “think different” strategy to usher in a new era is not new. In late 1997, Apple adopted the slogan “think different” to relaunch the brand, go back to basics and focus on “what really matters”. Twenty years later, what strikes me is how relevant the slogan still is today. In fact, I believe the mantra of “think different” is even more important to society now than it was for Apple in 1997. Here’s why. This technological revolution is different We are on the brink of a new world centred around digitisation, automation and machine intelligence. I have written about this before, but I genuinely believe this technological revolution is different from previous technological revolutions of the last 250 years. The challenge of coming to terms with these differences requires us all to think different. The complexity of technological change: Current technological innovations in the area of smart machines, sensors and big data, appear to be faster and more wide-ranging. The pace of digitisation and automation is accelerating. This makes perfect sense. The developments in the different automation technologies, such as machine learning, blockchain technology, internet of things and data analytics, are all accelerating each other. Anyone who doubts the pace and complexity of change should follow one of the many websites that are now devoted to the daily chronicling of…
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Automation and the creation of a new world
Dec 13, 2017 • Erik Vermeulen
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