Who Will Lead In The Smart Machine Age?©

from Forbes

We are on the brink of a technology tsunami that will likely be as challenging and transformative for us as the Industrial Revolution was for our ancestors. This tsunami will be led by artificial intelligence (AI), increased global connectivity, the Internet of Things, major advances in computing power, and virtual and augmented reality.  As a result, the Smart Machine Age (SMA) will fundamentally change the availability and nature of human work and make obsolete the dominate Industrial Revolution model of business organization and leadership. The organization of the future will be staffed by a combination of smart robots, AI systems, and human beings. Humans will be needed to do the tasks that technology won’t be able to do well: higher-order critical thinking, creativity, imagination, and innovation and tasks involving high emotional engagement with other human beings (SMA Skills). Technology will automate tens of millions of jobs in both service industries and the professions, dramatically reducing human headcount. And technology will likely automate and commoditize operational efficiency, making innovation the dominate value creation differentiator. In this type of environment, the differentiating capability may well be the human component—how well your people think, innovate, and work in teams. Human excellence in performing the SMA Skills could well be an organization’s competitive advantage. To achieve that advantage requires a leadership model very different from the leadership model of the past.

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11 Responses to Who Will Lead In The Smart Machine Age?©

  1. Michelle Pyatnychuk February 10, 2017 at 12:21 pm #

    This article is interested me very much as it stated over and over again, that even though our smart technologies and AI will advance, we will still need people within the workforce. Although we will be needing less people than we had before as technology will take over a majority number of industries, most notably manufacturing, we will still need to have humans in order to communicate face to face with another human being and provide the innovation and creativity that technology does not have the capability of having.

    What I loved about this article is that it addressed the common negative that is associated with technology, humanity’s growing inability to communicate between human beings without a screen. The debate against the growth and implementation of smart technologies within households and schools is that we are teaching future generations how to talk online instead of in person to gain those social skills that have seemed to have disappeared as the age of the smartphone has come along. What Hess is stating about how humans will be needed to communicate between one another on ideas of innovation and creativity is the best possible answer that will ease the minds of anti-technology people.

    If I have learned anything within this first month of taking Legal Foundations is that being able to amply use technology will only put you in the frontlines of the future. Those that still refuse to update themselves and their lives by persisting in the importance of social skills over computer skills are only setting themselves up to be the last ones in the ring. Technology is not going away and like any other productivity revolution as the Industrial of the late 19th century, we need to adapt. Adaptation is what will create new workforces that are filled with employees that have a new set of skills that will actually help them with their jobs. Nowadays, there are very few skills that can be transferable from one industry to another, but one skill that looks good on a resume for any job, in any industry, is computer and technology skills.

    It is these skills that have to be implemented within the educational system because from gaining these skills, the future workforce will only be helping themselves get jobs that require knowledge of what the smart technologies are capable of doing and will actually help bring back the social skills that anti-technology people are convinced that we have lost. To continue with what Hess stated, the future of the working world will drastically affect the world we live in now, but it will not be the “end of socializing in person.” These technologies, since they are not capable of emotional communication, creativity or innovation, will require for future employees to be able to interact with one another as a means of continuing developing new ways to make our lives more efficient and productive. This is the ultimate goal of the SMA, to make our lives more productive and from achieving this goal, we will grow our social skills and take one step towards getting back the “humanity” the opposition to technology says we have lost.

  2. Alex Strom February 10, 2017 at 1:19 pm #

    It is uncertain what the future will hold for us after this technological revolution. Technology is starting to seep into every aspect of our daily life, so we must learn to operate technology correctly and efficiently. This change in how things are done is very similar to the industrial revolution, so hopefully we are able to deal with it well. There is going to be less of a need for human resources, which may lead to unemployment, and bad things that we will not be able to prevent. The technological revolution is inevitable, so we must embrace it with open arms and try to contribute as much as we can to society as a whole.
    This article talks about the technological revolution and its similarities to the industrial revolution. Artificial Intelligence, or AI for short, increased global connectivity, the internet, and major advances in computing power are all expected to lead this tsunami (as the author called it) of the technological revolution. The smart machine age is going to make the business principles founded from the industrial revolution obsolete, so the nature of human work will be changed. Future staffs will consist o smart robots, AI systems and human. Human will be used to solve problems involving creativity, imagination, and high order critical thinking. During the industrial revolution, humans were taught to act, and work like machines. Now, during the technological revolution, there will be no need to worry about teaching humans to work like that, because there will be robots who replace them. Robots in the smart machine age will not have to worry about things like their ego, or have a fight or flight response when their ego is put at risk. Another thing that will be different about the technological age in the way that a business is run is the boss. Usually the boss demands people to do tasks for the well being of the company. A lot of times, the boss is also self-absorbed and only worries about himself. In the new age however, the boss will think of the company as a team, and will place blame on everyone instead of just an individual. They will be described as enablers, or a person that enables the highest level of human performance in pursuit of the organizations mission. The four E’s that a boss should always strive for in the technological revolution is to Enable, Engage, Embrace and Excel. The technological revolution should be very interesting, and I am not sure if I am ready to see robots working in places, and taking humans jobs.
    This article stood out to me because I never thought that we would be talking about robots being incorporated into every day like, and taking human’s jobs. I always knew that this was possible, and I saw things like this in movies but I never realized we were this close to it actually happening. I really like the comparison he makes with this revolution to the industrial revolution. During the industrial revolution, people were scared about the future, and what would happen because of all these machines taking peoples jobs. That turned out to be pretty successful, so hopefully this does as well. I think that a lot of people are scared that technology is going to take over all aspects of life as we know. Soon, that may happen, but we are not there yet. If this age proves to be successful, then we could have the possibility of seeing increased productivity for a lowered cost. This is always the goal when operating a business, so it would make sense for a business operator to be chomping at the bit, waiting for this to happen. This technological revolution can change the way we live our daily lives, but it is important not to get caught up with everything that goes on in this age when it finally comes around.

  3. Antoneta Sevo February 10, 2017 at 6:25 pm #

    It is true that our world is continuing to evolve and in order to continue that, we must have adaptable leaders. In “Who Will Lead in the Smart Machine Age?”, the idea of a demanding management system is thrown out. Ed Hess introduces the idea of a new type of leadership needed in our innovative world. Since our world is on the road to the Smart Machine Age, our leadership must improve with the industry. This means that strict, selfish and commanding leadership must end and make way for the more team friendly type of leadership.
    Hess provides the readers with the differences between “Industrial Revolution Leaders” and “Smart Machine Age Leaders”. Some examples are “Command, control, direct” compared to “invite and engage”, “follow me” compared to “join with me”, and “elitism and hierarchy wins” compared to “idea meritocracy”. These differences are necessary to the Smart Machine Age. A helpful team must support the new thinking because that is essential to innovation. It is not easy to voice ideas under the current leadership therefore, a new, accepting guidance is needed. Hess states that the new leaders can be described as Enablers. These Enablers should be able to engage, embrace, excel and enable the highest levels of human development. Those four things are important to have a successful and innovative team.
    I was a witness to a change of leadership through my sister. She works at Johnson & Johnson and is currently in the design department. She claims that her current situation is extremely open to new ideas and change. However, her old job in the Audit department was a different story. The management in Audit has been there for 15 years and has not changed. They are against adapting to new ideas and innovations that our world are faced with every day. It is important for people to have the skill to adapt because our society is always changing and we must keep up with it. By having a leadership that is open minded and is willing to evolve, our world will be able to innovate even more. It is an open door to an endless amount of possibilities. If we “engage with the world as a lifelong learner, with an open, curious mind and a quiet ego…embrace uncertainty, ambiguity, and complexity…excel at managing self – how one thinks, focuses attention, and manages emotions…enable the highest levels of human development…” we can reach success. These are the necessary steps to achieving innovation in our current society.
    The direction that our world is going in, new role models are needed. We cannot succeed with humans that are not adaptable, ones who were trained like machines, ones who command and ones who want to control their workers. This new generation is essential to our innovation because most know the importance of change and revolution. New ideas are hard to find but they are even harder to execute when the leadership is not open to it. This is easily discouraging to the worker, therefore, they might not express their future ideas. The whole point of new ideas is to move our world forward, which cannot be possible with unchanging leadership.

  4. Guy Barbano February 10, 2017 at 10:35 pm #

    From 1957 to 1975 the United States and Russia were racing to the space and after the first satellites went up the race to the moon was next. Fast forward 50 plus years and there is now a new race, but it is not just between the United States and Russia anymore. It is now everyone racing in the smart machine age. As technology advances many jobs will become useless since we will be able to have robots and AI systems do everything for us. As technology does advance humans will still be needed in the workforce. As the article says humans will still be needed for certain things to name a few, critical thinking, imagination and most of all emotional engagement. Since we know robots or any other automated system cannot do any of those tasks. It will really require work environments to be a people person environment. Making employees have to work better with each other since there will be less of them. Leaders will be needed in the smart machine age, but they cannot be a self-absorbed person who only cares about themselves. The winners of the smart machine age will be the people who can organize the best and be the most creative thinkers. Since now the sky is the limit for everything and anything people. I believe the smart machine age will be one of the best if not the best era in history. Considering all the new and innovative technology that comes out every day. Personally I feel if I have grown up in one of the best times in history so far. The world keeps changing and evolving for the future. People and there perspectives keep getting better and before everyone was all for themselves. Now though we are all evolving to work to together and become more of a unit and collaborated together. As the article says we all need to be enablers and embrace the 4 E’s. Engage, Embrace, Excel, Enables. Out of the four E’s I find Excel to be the one everyone in the smart machine age needs. In order to excel you must have the qualities to focus you attention, must be able to manage ones behavior which to me is the most important out of all the qualities for excel. If one cannot have their emotions in check then they are not fit to be a leader. A leader will never let his emotions get the better of him or her. If one was to let their emotions from others distract them from the ultimate goal then they have truly lost in my eyes. One quality I do not see mentioned here is compete. Compete to me is huge it is what separates winners from losers. Even though today everyone gets a participation trophy. In the real world though one must compete with each other also be able to work with each other though and strive to help the next person. I feel the will to compete is the best quality you can have to improve yourself and others. I feel as if the smart machine age will really help the world as a whole and improve the way we do jobs. It will increase the will to work and the desire to wake up and actually like what you do.

  5. Jonathan Cavallone February 14, 2017 at 1:29 pm #

    1. The Smart Machine Age discussed by Professor Ed Hess is a unique and intriguing topic. Comparing this “technology tsunami” to the Industrial Revolution brought to my attention the shocking similarities. The industrial revolution changed the way business was done and products were made. Here again, in the midst of the technology tsunami the way business is done and the way products are produced is changing. During the industrial revolution, humans were to operate the new efficient machines. These machines simplified manufacturing, allowing companies to produce more items efficiently. Here with the technology tsunami, the same thing is occurring except in most instances the new pieces of technology are replacing the role of humans. For example, in car manufacturing, the machines do nearly all of the work requiring little human work. Author Professor Ed Hess believes humans will only be responsible for tasks that technology will be inefficient with such as, “higher-order critical thinking, creativity, imagination, and innovation and tasks involving high emotional engagement with other human beings.” I completely agree with Professor Hess in this opinion because technology has come far in 2017, but there is much ground to run on. New technologies will be developed that perform tasks that currently require humans, which will put humans out of work. In order for humans to succeed in the technology tsunami they need to adapt.
    Professor Hess believes high emotional intelligence will be an important skill as well as abilities to connect, relate and emotionally engage with other humans and develop strong business trusting relationships. While I do agree with Professor Hess, I think that humans are going to need to learn how to co-exist with technology. One of my favorite entrepreneurs, Elon Musk has spoken much about where he sees the future of technology and humans role in society. Musk believes that as technology and artificial intelligence evolves, humans need to evolve as well. He has increasing concerns how artificial intelligence will replace jobs leaving humans with no source of income. This is ironic because his company, Tesla, develops self-driving cars that once they become mainstream, will put many humans in the taxi industry out of business. Musk believes that these effects will be taking place over the next 20 years, making about 12-15% of the global workforce unemployed. Elon believes that majority of jobs will be held by technology and robots and the government will have to pay the wages of the people. I believe this idea is a little farfetched, but not many people can predict the future as well as musk can. He has been predicting electric cars will take over and eventually, self-driving cars for many years now. Tesla is going to be the future of cars and artificial intelligence is going to change the way society functions. Humans are going to have to make adaptations and merge with technology learning to co-exist with one another. It is only a matter of time before technology becomes a problem in society, it will be interesting to see where the future lies.

  6. Daniel Anglim February 15, 2017 at 8:30 pm #

    Technology has been increasing at record rates ever since the globalization of the internet. Artificial intelligence systems, also known as AI are predicted to take over a large part of the human work. This AI takeover will be called the Smart Machine Age, and will change the availability and nature of human work. These machines are guaranteed to reduce the number of human required jobs around the world. Humans are going to have to operate in a world where they work side-by-side with artificial intelligence systems. The article, “Who Will Lead In The Smart Machine Age?” by author Ed Hess, poses interesting ideas as to what it will take for humans to still be contributing factors in a world ran by machines. He states, “ The organization of the future will be staffed by a combination of smart robots, AI systems, and human beings. Humans will be needed to do the tasks that technology won’t be able to do well: higher-order critical thinking, creativity, imagination, and innovation and tasks involving high emotional engagement with other human beings (SMA Skills).” Hess’s advice is extremely important and needs to be taken by young adults so that they can prepare themselves for the future. With the unemployment rate already significantly high it is only bound to keep increasing with the advancement of AI to take over jobs.
    Reading this article I asked my self whether the increase in technology is a good or bad thing. Although AI like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s Google help make things easier for individuals they are nothing compared to what the future holds for AI. These AI devices that we see are only the beginning, Siri hardly works, and Alexa is still ordering items off Amazon by accident. Eventually, these kinks will be worked out and we will see a sort of AI on steroids. Honestly, this terrifies me. It might be because movies like IRobot, a Will Smith movie where robots are programmed to take over the planet, give a bad wrap for the Robots. Realistically, the main thing that scares me about them is their ability to outperform humans in almost every way. It is impossible for humans to be able to memorize everything, but Robots can simply be programmed to perform certain things perfectly and to know almost anything that can be found on the internet. Hess says humans are going to have to learn how to interact and be leaders that command these robots. This is something almost incomprehensible to the mind. It is hard to predict the future because it is something unknown, it is impossible to be right about everything and perhaps the Smart Machine Age will never come. I love the world I currently live in and I would prefer it to not change. I know this is an immature way to view the world, but sometimes you need a little hope. If things do end up being controlled by Robots I will adapt to my situation to the best of my ability.

  7. Carl Hakansson February 16, 2017 at 11:48 pm #

    What fascinated me right off the bat in this article was the reference to the skills that humans will need in the Smart Machine Age. I have read many articles that talk about how young adults need to prepare for the age of technology that is coming upon us, and almost all of them talk about how we need to improve our technological skills in order to keep up with the market. This article however, attacks the issue from a different perspective. Instead of describing the tools we need relating to technology, the article talks about the other skills we will need, the skills that technology cannot do. These skills include critical thinking, creativity, and imagination, among other similar skills. These are skills that computers simply do not possess. Technology may replace humans in multiple areas of the workforce, but human-to-human interaction cannot be created. The intense emotional connection that humans can make between one another cannot be replicated through coding. These are the skills I have always found most important, and it is comforting to know that technology is not expected to take this from us.
    I feel as though I can improve my technologically-based skillset in order to keep up with other employees, however there will always be a new innovation or a new computer that will be able to out-do me. I feel as though my natural skillset caters more towards people-to-people interaction and management rather than operating machines and dealing with technology. In this case, it may be more beneficial for me to focus on the jobs that computers cannot perform, because I will need to outperform other people, rather than computers.
    Another issue this article talks about is management approaches. Historically, companies managed themselves through vertical management – there was a clear hierarchy of people who passed on commands and work to a separate layer of workers. Jobs were clearly defined. Nowadays, there is much more freedom for the employee, and bosses tend to work with all levels of employees rather than give them orders. This idea of collaboration stems from the advancement of modern technology. SMA jobs are not the type of jobs that you can tell the employee to do a certain way; it may prove more beneficial to work with the employee to solve a problem rather than command them to do a job a certain way.
    I am a big fan of the freedom that technology is providing companies and their employees. Although I think that vertical management has been historically effective, the world is currently changing and it is time to adapt. On a day-to-day basis, companies need to solve problems to ultimately maximize their profits. With the increase in the use of computers, vertical management and specific commands simply will not work. There is not one specific way to do a job or solve a problem anymore, and therefore collaboration and horizontal management are key. Technology provides us with a world of tools at our disposal, and it will prove to be fruitful for a company to change their management way for the sake of the company.

  8. Adara Gonzalez February 17, 2017 at 7:34 pm #

    This article did nothing more but bash on how far we have come as a successful working society thriving inside business due to the current running success of the Industrial Revolution. I understand what the author, Professor Ed Hess, was trying to convey throughout the article. Emphasizing on the huge differences our common leaders of today will have compared to those of tomorrow, driven by the possible success of upcoming Smart Age. There will be an immense difference, one that we as a society must find a way to merge into on time for the age of artificial intelligence, in order to assure a smooth transition between transformative ages. The leaders of today are accustomed to leading by example and ensuring command and control throughout the company. Professor Hess claims that for the Smart Age some of the skills needed for a successful leader will by emotional awareness and people centric values, all of which sound great and reasonable. There will be a huge need of human emotion and creativity due to almost everything being done by the artificial intelligence we will soon introduce into this world. It is all understandable and reasonable, although I do not entirely agree that the leadership format of today will be completely dead and gone.
    A good chunk of the article consisted of Professor Hess demeaning the leadership skills of today, believing it will not live long enough to see and participate in the era of the Smart Age. Completely pushing aside the fact that the good leaders of today still do lead in the similar manner of ensuring control in a company or a group of people, but they are also empathic and emotionally aware as well. The out of the box definition Professor Hess gives to the leaders of today is truly not doing justice concerning how far we have come as a society and just how much we have grown from said labels. All good leaders of today hold close these values, and with the upcoming Smart Age, I am positive they will not leave us completely. If anything, they will continue to grow, as we have been doing this whole time. One cannot compare the old boss from a magazine company in the 1970’s to be the same as one found today’s magazine company. We have learned to value our human instincts and individuality with the passage of time.
    The leadership skills of emotional awareness and creativity is a very important factor for the success of the Smart Age. But there is no need to completely obliterate the leadership skills we currently hold today, as if it will only bring harm and as if they are not currently showing successful and satisfactory results to this day. Sure, I understand what Professor Hess means by the new change of the upcoming era, but that does not mean that what we have now will not be successful. I believe that the leadership skills of today will continue to thrive tomorrow for the Smart Age, due to what we have been doing all along; learning to continuously adapt depending on the environment we are in and lead those who are around us. That is what a leader has always done and will continue to do, before the Industrial Revolution, currently today, during the Smart Age and well beyond so long as the human race continues to thrive.

  9. Isaiah Allen February 17, 2017 at 8:32 pm #

    Many of us believe that the evolution of technology over the years has greatly benefited our economy, and made our everyday lives easier. However, rarely do we take into consideration the effect that technology has on the future job market, and how it can reduce the need for companies to hire humans. In his article, Ed Hess discusses how the Smart Machine Age will require employees to have a different set of skills than the ones in the past. As a result of implementing more technology into the workplace, humans are going to have to learn how to do things that machines cannot do. We will be responsible for offering our creativity, imagination, and ability to handle emotional conflicts. I believe that in the past, workers have been focused more on their individual success rather than that off the human race. I agree with Hess’s theory that in the future, we need to focus more on group success and the overall achievement of a unit. I think technology will eventually reach a point where machines will be able to do a lot of the same things we can do, if not more. This will make it imperative for us to use our minds more than ever before and think about how we can change the world not only for us but for everybody. A prime example of this is Google, and the way they their workers are committed to constantly being innovative. They have workers who are specifically hired just to invent new ways they can better the lives of individuals. The consumer market is constantly changing, and in the future we should start to focus more on human emotion, which is still something we do better than machines.
    In order for us to become leaders in the Smart Machine Age, we must be able to elevate the performance of others, and galvanize a unit in order to reach their potential. The Industrial revolution created a business world where workers would focus on themselves, and think about how they can create something brilliant by themselves and make money off of it. In today’s society I think we realized that success is easier to achieve with a team of individuals working hard, with similar goals in mind. In the Smart Machine Age, we will have to be focused on what is best for the team and not what is best for ourselves. Most of the companies that are successful today are committed to making the future better for the human race, not just their particular company. Even though technology has significantly improved over the years, the tech companies still are committed to changing the lives of their customers, and not just trying to create the next best thing. The Smart Machine Age will require us to show that we are committed to group success and open to change. The job recruiters will be won’t be looking for a specific skill as much as they look for character traits, or critical thinking. Now that we know what it will take in order to be leaders in the Smart Machine Age, it is up to us to make sure we start learning about group success, and what else it will take to be successful in a technology dominated economy.

  10. Jiaqi Ma February 24, 2017 at 5:40 pm #

    From the first half of the 1st paragraph the author of this article, agrees with the perspective that we human beings are facing an inevitable revolution of technology. This completely makes us different from the industrial age of our forefathers. The technology tsunami will be sprang by several new scientific and technological undertakings, especially artificial intelligence (AI). The coming of the Smart Machine Age (SMA) brings the dysphoria that AI maybe dominates the future, like how the article states “Technology will automate tens of millions of jobs in both service industries and the professions, dramatically reducing human headcount.” After reading the last part of this article, I should change my original thoughts about the perspective of the article.
    Albert Einstein once said,” I am concerned about that one day technology would beyond our interpersonal interaction, and then, this world would become an age overflowed of people without thinking.” It is daunting how much this statement relates to today’s age. It appears as if each generation believes this, for many have complained about the new generations becoming dumber. So far, AI(artificial intelligence) has found an increasingly wide utilization in bounds of fields that has moved into every aspect of our live. They are altering the classical lifestyle as well. Who will Lead In The Smart Machine Age? What is the key component for SMA to become a human age?From the article’s perspective, it appeals that the Leadership in the Smart Machine Age will be more emotional than the needed “command and control” era. High emotional intelligence will be required as well as the abilities to connect, relate, and emotionally engage with others in a manner that builds trusting relationship. In essence, the point is to make the robots think like human beings, have the same feelings like we normal people.
    Should there be fear that one-day robots would replace humans in the future? Truly, with the convenience that hi-tech brings, nobody knows which of these hi-techs are our kind assistants or the terminators. As long as there is a candidate, A or B, the questions would be answered by Google or Amazon with many algorithmic notations to support them witch questions such was whether someone should get married or not. Due to the big data records, following the tracks from birth can lead to crucial information about an individual .Computers would know all your mails, the books you read, the heart rate per minute, the blood pressure, the components of your DNA, they records how your heart beats effected by investigating whom you dated. It seems that the AI (artificial intelligence) would be able to recognize everything about you. On the bright side, there is no need to worry about AI. Currently, it can only solve several problems with experience summed up by our predecessors. A wide range of areas like Semantic recognition, further logical reasoning, and common sense recognition cannot be completed merely by robots. Thus I believe there is a long way for hi-techs to replace human beings, but at the moment it would only be for some smaller computations.
    The real crisis that the artificial intelligence brings to society, is not enslave mankind, but it can also be demoralized the root cause of the man. There are many researches that are currently working along a very ambiguous line between ethics and progress. For instance, there have been several debates about the use of aborted fetuses for stem-cell research. Also, there have been many debates whether animal testing for medication is moral. In essence, as technology increases, so does the ambiguity of the research.

  11. BPatel March 29, 2018 at 11:06 pm #

    This article grabbed my attention by discussing how the leadership and management roles should adapt to the upcoming “Smart Machine Age”. Personally, this topic is very interesting because it addresses how people in the past lead and how those same skills need to be enhanced to support the new wave of technological advancements that the world is facing. I feel like this article can serve as an encouragement to those who are aspiring to become leaders in the future, to think outside the box and to learn how to quickly adapt to the changing environment.
    A skill that is now in high demand is emotional intelligence and it is very important to have emotional intelligence as a skill because it can impact the way business is done and how other people perceive you. This is also the one skill that the machines like AI and smart robots lack and therefore it can make you an indispensable leader which is highly commendable in today’s society. In addition, I like how the article talks about how a people-centric work environment in SMA will be in high demand. In my opinion, leaders and subordinates should create an environment that can prove to be beneficial for all and encourage personal growth.

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