The Automation of Everything


In a Post from 2014, I explored the path of automation and a possible economic impact between $14 and $30 trillion. Almost four years later, my focus has shifted from economic to societal impact. How far will we take automation? Will automation augment us, freeing us from mundane and redundant tasks, or will it replace us? Is automation limited to those characteristics we typically associate with our left brain – or will it encroach upon our right brain characteristics?

These questions currently have no answer – just speculation. How far the slider in the visual below goes, drives a profound difference in the ultimate implications to society. The obvious area of impact is the future of work – if we do indeed realize decentralized autonomous organizations. Do our right brain characteristics become much more important in this future world, and do they represent a safe haven? I show three very impactful examples in presentations that would have us question whether or not machines can be creative, compassionate, and eventual companions.

In a recent forum, someone said that Robot Taxes would disrupt the automation train (obstacle). But that would assume that an arms race driven by China does not materialize (accelerant). This future scenario (automation of everything) is no different than all the others: its path is impossible to predict, and a series of obstacles and accelerants must be evaluated as we look for possible paths. We need a minimum viable appreciation for the potential paths of each future scenario (and others) depicted on the emerging future visual.

Automation of Everything

4 thoughts on “The Automation of Everything

  1. Here’s an example that might help illustrate where we’re going.

    I’m currently learning video editing software. There is a lot of tecky nerd information involved, and video editors are typically valued by how much of that nerd stuff they have mastered.

    In an automated future the nerd stuff will no longer matter because the machines will have taken over those details. The video editing tech nerds will lose their jobs because anyone will be able to walk up to the computer and say something like…

    “Computer, give me a video sequence of a man jumping out of burning race car while a Russian submarine flies by overhead.”

    Point being, technical skills will be devalued and creative skills will be the focus of value.

    It’s already happening, and right on this page. In the early 1990s you pretty much had to be a Unix nerd to publish on the Net. But today, anybody can just enter their message in to this text entry box and hit submit. All that matters now is the creative output. I live or die now based on what I have to say, not by mastering the mechanism of saying it.

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  2. […] Advanced automation will accelerate in the years ahead – and the scarcity of labor serves as a catalyst. A significant boost in productivity is likely, but the authors warn of an imbalance between supply and demand: to grow, economies need demand to match rising output. Their analysis shows automation is likely to push output potential far ahead of demand potential. While the impact to jobs is a widely debated topic, most estimates show a significant loss of jobs. The authors estimate that 40 million workers will be displaced, and wage growth depressed for many more workers. They see the benefit of automation flowing primarily to highly skilled and highly compensated workers – about 20% of the workforce. The other beneficiaries are the owners of capital. The existing scarcity of highly skilled workers will grow more acute – pushing their incomes even higher relative to lesser-skilled workers; which leads to the third force:  income and wealth inequality. […]

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