At Avasant we believe that there are a number of innovative, developing technologies that companies should be making investments in to enhance and grow their businesses now as well as to thrive and stay relevant as we move toward Digital Singularity. Singularity, the point where human experience meets technological omnipresence, means that technology is all around us, and it is always on, always listening, always monitoring, and ready to follow our command.
One of the Technology Prerequisites is Artificial Intelligence. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the simulation of intelligent human behavior by machines— but it is not intelligence. By definition, it is “artificial” and lacks sentience. It is directed and controlled by us.
WHERE AI IS AND WHERE IT IS GOING
AI is at work in many of the technologies we use each day. It’s what makes our real-time navigation and ridesharing mobile apps function so effortlessly. It’s in our virtual assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri. AI is enabling us to avoid nearly all of the spam emails that used to invade our inboxes. AI also drives speech recognition applications, chat bots, biometrics, which help analyze many things our bodies are doing, and machine learning—the science of getting computers to act without being directly programmed. Soon enough, AI will be everywhere, effectively powering self-driving cars to drastically cut the amount of accidents on the road, and even a real-time, virtual model of our physical selves that transacts for us, acts on our behalf through automation, and protects our personal information, which we call Digital Twins (which we’ll read about in another article).
WITH DISRUPTION COMES OPPORTUNITY
You may have heard some alarmist concerns in the news or on social media from a few technology industry luminaries expressing fear that runaway technological growth of AI could, one day, lead to the extinction of our species by killer robots and machines. Certainly, regulation of AI is warranted, and like any new technology, there is potential for misuse. But it is a big leap to suggest AI will become sentient enough to do any of these things. AI is not being developed to replace humans but to complement our abilities, knowledge, and lives. While AI and the other Technology Prerequisites will also create new jobs, companies, industries and verticals, there is some risk that AI will replace certain human jobs that require a repetition of tasks or a predictable routine. Throughout human history, there has been a tradition of technology causing disruption, fear, and then new opportunities. That’s happening today. Technology has, and will continue to, purge many jobs, especially in manual labor and agriculture. A number of job categories and industries will disappear due to advances in AI as well as Robotic Process Automation (which we will explore in another article), and robotics. This is of great concern to many, found a recent survey by Pew Research. More than twice as many U.S. adults expressed worry rather than enthusiasm (72 percent vs. 33 percent) about a future where computers and robots might be proficient doing many jobs now performed by humans. But that anxiety was also tempered with some optimism about the many new opportunities on the horizon.[i] For the foreseeable future, the jobs less vulnerable to AI and automation include those related to managing and developing people and those that require expertise in decision-making, planning, and creative work. Job growth is expected to continue through 2026 in knowledge-intensive sectors, such as professional services and healthcare, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecast.[ii] This is why companies need to increase their efforts now to retrain workers, enhance skills, stress continuous education, and learn to adapt to the changing conditions. If you do not have the right tools, and if you are not creating, transforming, or innovating in your industry, you are not competing in the new consumer demand–driven marketplace for business. Companies that make the right investments—especially in AI and the other Technology Prerequisites—will be able to benefit from the robust change around us. While some jobs will inevitably be lost as AI increases in sophistication as we head toward Singularity, we continue to be hopeful that this new technology will drive new, higher-value opportunities and, ultimately, employment in many industries and verticals.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Avinash Baliga is an associate director with over 15 years assisting sourcing strategy, shared services assessment, operational optimization and global sourcing initiatives. Extensive experience in sourcing advisory, program management, financial modeling and operational benchmarking.
Chirag Rawat is an Associate Director at Avasant with over 9 years of outsourcing experience. He has worked with F500 corporations, country governments, parastatal bodies, international organizations; helping them through their technology sourcing decision making.