In this Strategy+Business article I summarized a century of automation from Silicon Collar like UPC scanners in groceries and ATM machines in banking and related impact of jobs. The summary: History shows that new technologies evolve faster than society adopts them.
There has been much hype and hysteria around the contemporary crop of automation technologies like AI and drones, but early results show they will get adopted just as gradually. Here are some recent findings:
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) – McKinsey says“several robotics programs have been put on hold, or CIOs have flatly refused to install new bots—even those vendors have worked on for months—till solutions have been defined to scale the program effectively.”
Autonomous cars – Heather Knight an expert in human-robot interfaces has this to say about Tesla’s autopilot “I’d estimate that Autopilot classified ~30% of other cars, and 1% of bicyclists. Not being able to classify objects doesn’t mean the Tesla doesn’t see that something is there, but given the lives at stake, we recommend that people NEVER USE TESLA AUTOPILOT AROUND BICYCLISTS!”. And car technology is evolving much faster than our road infrastructure, laws, ethics when it comes to driverless cars.
Industrial Robotics – For six years since the tsunami wrecked the Fukushima nuclear reactor, robots have been sent in to try and help with the clean-up. Says TechCrunch – “Robots keep getting fried on their missions, literally from radiation damage, or stranded on-site wasting precious money and time.” And this is Japan, the leading maker and consumer of robots, accounting for half of the world’s production and with the world’s largest concentration of robot engineers.
That will not stop vendors from saying “it’s different this time” or academics and analysts from screaming the sky is falling and that we will lose hundreds of millions of jobs. But most practitioners I talk to are well aware of the immaturity of many of these technologies and of their economics. These practitioners will gradually adopt these tools to change processes and work streams. The key word is “gradual”.
(Cross-posted @ Deal Architect)