The Shape Of Work To Come

from nature

Last year, entrepreneur Sebastian Thrun set out to augment his sales force with artificial intelligence. Thrun is the founder and president of Udacity, an education company that provides online courses and employs an armada of salespeople who answer questions from potential students through online chats. Thrun, who also runs a computer-science lab at Stanford University in California, worked with one of his students to collect the transcripts of these chats, noting which resulted in students signing up for a course. The pair fed the chats into a machine-learning system, which was able to glean the most effective responses to a variety of common questions.

Next, they put this digital sales assistant to work alongside human colleagues. When a query came in, the program would suggest an appropriate response, which a salesperson could tailor if necessary. It was an instantaneously reactive sales script with reams of data supporting every part of the pitch. And it worked; the team was able to handle twice as many prospects at once and convert a higher percentage of them into sales. The system, Thrun says, essentially packaged the skills of the company’s best salespeople and bequeathed them to the entire team — a process that he views as potentially revolutionary. “Just as much as the steam engine and the car have amplified our muscle power, this could amplify our brainpower and turn us into superhumans intellectually,” he says.

The past decade has seen remarkable advances in digital technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, cloud computing, data analytics and mobile communications. Over the coming decades, these technologies will transform nearly every industry — from agriculture, medicine and manufacturing to sales, finance and transportation — and reshape the nature of work. “Millions of jobs will be eliminated, millions of new jobs will be created and needed, and far more jobs will be transformed,” says Erik Brynjolfsson, who directs the Initiative on the Digital Economy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

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5 Responses to The Shape Of Work To Come

  1. Tianqi Xu December 1, 2017 at 3:43 pm #

    Changes in the world are changing with each passing day, regardless of where humankind is confronted not only with its competitors but also with emerging products. According to the research, more and more industries are replaced by machines. This is certainly a good thing and a bad thing at the same time. People’s workload has been reduced, and unemployment has also risen. Although the machines are to some extent improve the production efficiency and accuracy, but after all they still can not be compared with humans (of course, this is only at this stage, the future will be how to develop or unknown).
    I remember talking to one of my accountants about what he had experienced in his life. He said that one year he went to the bank for a credit card and made an error in the calculation of certain interest. He asked the clerks at the time whether they knew the algorithm of interest or not, and he did not know the answer but it was calculated by the computer so it would not go wrong. Then the same thing happened a second time when he asked the bank manager. Finally, the bank department confirmed that my teacher said that the computer is indeed a mistake. From this incident we can see that the machine is not always the right time, mistakes are inevitable. And it shows that humans are now increasingly relying on machines rather than themselves. Those who go to work in the bank do not even know simple calculation formulas, which largely explain the problem. Why the machine will certainly be more accurate than people? Although most people think so now, this must be wrong.
    Further, the work of this is the need for cooperation between people. The machine knows what cooperation? I do not think so. Just as the article mentioned in the cooperation between people in exchange for the benefits of success. The machine is just cold iron, and they accomplish the tasks assigned to them by humans. In other words, humans (or creators) give them “life.” What can a machine do without human instructions? It seems nothing can be done. At this level, machines and people can not be compared. Although some simple work can really be done to the machine, such as the assembly line in the factory or the simple calculation of something. However, real business dealings still need to be done by people. I believe this is why there is commercial negotiation. If one day the machine is really able to communicate face-to-face without obstacles (of course, not just conversations, but more complicated expressions, etc.) human beings may face a great threat. This is what many people are worried about, and when the machine really becomes self-conscious, everything is late.
    Anyway, we are now enjoying the benefits the machine gives us, but at the same time we do not forget what we can do for ourselves. Do not think all the time with machines to replace all our positions.

  2. Vincent Scorese December 8, 2017 at 7:42 pm #

    Everything that we do on a daily basis will in most likelihood change in some regard within the next 5 years and some newfound technology will change the way we do it or handler a certain task. As this article outlays, most of the shopping or retail world is going to be under intense pressure job wise with the introduction of more than a substantial amount of Artificial intelligence into the workplace than ever before. According to the projections that many economist shave run they really feel that more than 40% of all jobs in the current retail space will be replaced with robots or just not even exist anymore due to the introduction of technology in the workplace. Now the benefit could come at the hands of businesses that won’t need to spend as much money on labor which is a company’s biggest expense but it could really hurt the economy down the road with the lack of jobs for entry level workers like me who is working full time while trying to put myself through college at the same time. The economy is going to go through a shift towards the jobs entering the technology sector rather than things like manufacturing or labor which has ruled our economy for a long period of time in the united states. This is new and exciting for most who look at it but is also very concerning for those in that environment. Obviously, the introduction of machines can make things more productive for the existing workers that was outlined in the article. A lot will make the argument that is made for the introduction of self-driving cars in the economy and that is the fact that it takes out more human error from either the workplace or even the actions we take part in every day. Statistics would show that in any given scenario the less deviation or variance from the outcomes leads to a more productive and better overall system and machines or for that matter all forms of artificial intelligence can assist in that. Everyone that is either in college or just entering the workforce, or even those already in it need to be more technologically savvy and be more aware of how to work with computers and other forms of technology because this is a sign of how the work place is going to be like for the years to come. So, better buckle down a prepare for the ride that is technology.

  3. Coby Dunn January 26, 2018 at 4:47 pm #

    No matter where you work, or what profession you may be pursuing, technology will inevitably be a part of you work life. The fear however, for our generation, is that technology will soon be able to do the work for us. So far, the work that machines do has not taken over jobs for employees, but it is predicted to happen in some fields of work.The problem however, is that machines will never be able to match human interaction, or intuition. One example of this is in restaurants. Applebees now has an option to order and pay for your food from a tablet. While that is efficient, and easy, what does that mean for service? One of my friends in high school worked as a waitress at Applebees. She noticed that if she relied more on the tablet to do her job instead of taking the orders herself, that she would lose tips. As a waitress, tips were essential to her. Automation in the workplace also has an impact on human interaction and cooperation. A machine may be able to calculate numbers and make the best financial decisions for a company, but it will never be able to decipher what is morally right and wrong. Humans have empathy, and we make decisions based on emotion most of the time. A machine does not have that ability. I could not imagine going into a store and not interacting with at least one person. currently, retail is under heavy pressure to go towards automation. I think this is aimed more towards online shopping, but I like to go to the store, and try on my clothes before I buy them. This also means a decrease in jobs for many people. Technology and automation can be positive. it is efficient, less expensive in the long run, and it is the wave of the future. However, technology and automation lacks the human touch. I believe the key to maximizing the output of technology is to pair it with a human hand. One worker can do the same thing as ten with with the help of technology, but the machine will never replace the human mind, the expertise, and the ability to adapt to changing situations. The world will be heading towards a more technologically inclusive environment, and we need to be ready for how that changes the world we live in.

  4. Antonio Chirichiello February 9, 2018 at 8:57 pm #

    The advances in technology threatens the people’s positions in the workforce each year. As we continue to develop and perfect artificial intelligence, it becomes a greater possibility of jobs becoming replaced by robots and intelligent computers. I have mixed feelings when I discuss this topic because, advances in technology can be beneficial and detrimental. It even states in the article that, advances in technology will have an affect across industries and sectors like: agriculture, medicine, manufacturing to sales, finance, and transportation.

    I think that, advances in technology is great for human beings in many aspects of life. I believe that people who feel threatened that technology is changing the workforce by potentially replacing them with robotics, should innovate with the times. In the article it states that “Millions of jobs will be eliminated, millions of new jobs will be created and needed, and far more jobs will be transformed”. In my opinion, technology is giving us more of an opportunity in the workforce. I understand change is an intimidating occurrence in life but, it gives the people the opportunity to reinvent themselves.

    Technology advancement affects older people the most especially the ones who have one skill or trade because, if they get replaced by robotics or computers it will be difficult for them to learn a new skill. It is important for an individual to be educated with more than one skill or profession so they do not get replaced. This also affects people who work minimum wage jobs as, I feel that they will be replaced first. It will be a tough transition for the people who are less educated in society. These advancements are not limited to one industry as artificial intelligence can cover a broad field of industries.

    In conclusion, I feel that we should not panic but rather, embrace the change that is bound to come. The abilities that technology has over humans now is astounding. The artificial intelligence can cover so much more information in a short period of time than compared to what a human can cover. It is inevitable that technology will assist us with medical accomplishments and scientific breakthrough in the future. Instead of fearing the rise of technology we should utilize what it has to offer us and humanity as a whole.

  5. Audrey Manion February 23, 2018 at 2:44 pm #

    Technology is advancing rapidly, and almost too fast for our own good. As the author stated, researchers are trying to study the implications that the advancement of artificial intelligence will have on a wide range of jobs, but it is really hard to tell exactly how it will affect society in the future. There are both positives and negatives to all of the new technology, and we have to find ways to use it to our advantage.

    I believe that we are currently in a transition period. Technology that just 20 years ago was unimaginable is now coming to fruition. People are creating new things every day, but we still do not know how to use all of it yet. Some technologies, like virtual reality, are mostly just used for recreational purposes, but will one day be integral to business. Other technologies, like 3D printing, are already making their way into the business world, soon to revolutionize manufacturing and even seeing opportunities in health and medicine. Big changes are soon going to be happening in the way we do things every day as a society. This can be both exciting and scary for many people.

    Some jobs will be lost, some will be made more efficient, and some will be created due to technological advancements. The key here, however, is that we do not let it get ahead of us. The implications of new and revolutionary technology must be studied thoroughly, to ensure that jobs are always being made more effective, whether a machine replaces it, or a human and machine are working interdependently, rather than jobs being lost to machines just for the sake of it (or for the cost-saving benefits). The use of artificial intelligence and other technologies will change the way we do things; hopefully this change will be positive, as long as we keep studying how it will make our workforce more efficient.

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