How Artificial Intelligence Will Transform Everything

In 2015, best-selling author Martin Ford gave us Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future. In the fall of 2021, he followed that up with Rule of the Robots: How Artificial Intelligence (AI) Will Transform Everything. In his recent book, he explores various aspects of artificial intelligence – both positive and negative. He likens AI to electricity, perhaps the greatest general-purpose technology the world has ever known. A general-purpose technology is pervasive, improving over time, and able to spawn new innovations. In the Second Machine Age, the authors describe this phenomenon as a common element of each industrial revolution, including steam (First), electricity, Telephone, and internal combustion engine (second), and Internet (third).

We can go all the way back to fire to witness the impact of these pervasive innovations. In an article from July of 2021, Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google’s owner Alphabet, said that he believes artificial intelligence (AI) will eventually have a bigger impact than fire, electricity, and the Internet. This poll from my post on the topic explored the reaction to that belief. Fifty-eight percent of respondents agreed with him. Please take the poll and lend your voice to the conversation.

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Humanoid Robot Defends Personal Space

Many prognosticators expect a robotic tipping point this year. We are witnessing the acceleration of the robotic journey with advancements appearing at a dizzying pace. Unlike the robots of the past, these advancements might freak us out – as it did to the folks at Engineered Arts when they witnessed this reaction by their humanoid robot. See video below.

2022 Prediction Season

It’s that time of year when the airwaves are filled with predictions. I launched my post on signals prior to the holidays, consciously avoiding the term prediction. Regardless of how I feel about predicting in the current environment, there are many thoughtful articles to consider. Here are several prediction articles that I have curated.

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Humanoid Robots Making Remarkable Progress

A picture is worth a thousand words. I’ve written recently about our robotic journey and everyday robots – but to that adage about pictures, this video says it all about accelerating progress. This recent article describes how This lifelike robot is terrifying everyone with its realism.

The Acceleration Of The Robotic Journey

Although predictions these days may be even more difficult given our complex systems are progressing and scaling at an unprecedented rate, a macro-level focus can provide an ability to scan beyond the horizon. So rather than attempt to predict, here are my 2019 thoughts on several macro-level forces.

Frank Diana – What to Expect in 2019

That quote comes from a post I wrote to usher in 2019. One of those macro-level forces was acceleration (the other two were convergence and a burst of possibilities). As we close 2021, acceleration is all around us, but in 2019, no one knew that a pandemic would enable a great acceleration. There are countless examples of how the pandemic pulled possible futures forward, and one such example is robotics. In a recent article, Greg Nichols says that there is no denying we’re in the midst of a robotic renaissance, as industries like construction and delivery reach a tipping point.

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Everyday Robots

A recent article via Evan Ackerman takes a look at Alphabet’s Everyday Robots. Several videos are provided via the article (a couple are included below). He provides an entertaining analysis of each video and some perspective as well.

I’m a little bit torn on this whole thing. A fleet of 100 mobile manipulators is amazing. Pouring money and people into solving hard robotics problems is also amazing. I’m just not sure that the vision of an “Everyday Robot” that we’re being asked to buy into is necessarily a realistic one.

Evan Ackerman – Years Later, Alphabet’s Everyday Robots Have Made Some Progress
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Tesla Pursues Humanoid Robots

Move over Sophia you might have company. At Tesla’s AI Day, Elon Musk said the company plans to build a robot in human form, leveraging some of its vehicle technology. The path of humanoid robots much like everything else, will go in two possible directions. Constructively, care robots, companion robots, and those that handle difficult repetitive tasks, help address mounting challenges as well as long-standing ones. On the destructive side, these robots may someday encroach upon those traits that make us distinctly human. Our path forward continues to represent a balancing act. Elon Musk describes his vision in the video below.

Revisiting Next Generation Automation

Back in 2014, the thought of advancements in automation was picking up steam. I wrote about a Next Generation Automation and focused on five primary drivers of advanced automation: the automation of knowledge work, advanced robotics, autonomous vehicles, the Internet of Things, and the mobile Internet. A McKinsey report from that period sized five disruptive technologies that could have an economic impact between $14 and $30 trillion. How much have we accomplished exactly seven years since that Blog post was written?

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Robot Artists And Musicians

I’ve asked this question before: Is Creativity the Sole Domain of Humans? As each day passes, the answer becomes clearer. One of the most impactful videos I use captures a conversation between Sophia the robot and Jimmy Fallon. As you watch their interaction, you quickly lose sight of the fact that Sophia is a robot. It’s easy for humans to be threatened by a robot that seems to encroach upon the characteristics that make us distinctly human. However, the other side of this discussion represents the potential for a positive human outcome. One example is the introduction of Companion Robots that help deal with the challenges of loneliness and isolation. Another is the role of robots in healthcare and elderly care.

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Companion Robots And Mental Health

What is your initial reaction to this question. Please respond to the poll.

Transformers Prioritize AI Investment

There are many examples of COVID-19 serving as an Accelerant. History and necessity tell us that automation is one of those examples. According to a Business Insider survey of 53 leaders featured in the Transforming Business series, AI and Cloud are at the top of the list of transformation that companies will invest in during 2021. It’s on the agenda of 47% of those surveyed. The connection to the pandemic can be seen in examples of where automation is applied. This recent Article describes a scenario where social distancing requirements are met through automation. Author Joe Mullich points to the kitchen of a burger joint, where a hard-working fry cook named “Flippy” is paving the way for greater use of artificial intelligence and cloud technology in the restaurant industry. 

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Nanobots To Improve Our Health and Someday Connect Our Minds

Nanotechnology is defined as the manipulation of matter with at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometers. Wikipedia had this to say about the field:


Nanotechnology may be able to create many new materials and devices with a vast range of applications, such as in nanomedicinenanoelectronicsbiomaterials energy production, and consumer products. On the other hand, nanotechnology raises many of the same issues as any new technology, including concerns about the toxicity and environmental impact of nanomaterials, and their potential effects on global economics, as well as speculation about various doomsday scenarios. These concerns have led to a debate among advocacy groups and governments on whether special regulation of nanotechnology is warranted.


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The Workforce of 2025

“According to experts, remote work is here to stay and even when the health crisis ends, a good portion of the workforce will remain working from home”

That’s the sentiment from a recent Article that looks at the workforce of 2025. Author Lori Ioannou explores the challenges of keeping employees connected, innovating and collaborating in a world of virtual organizations. Evidence that remote work is likely to continue keeps mounting. Microsoft told employees that they can Work From Home Permanently. Dropbox recently did the same, announcing on Tuesday that they will stop asking employees to come into its offices and instead make Remote Work The Standard Practice. For employees that need to meet or work together in person, the company is setting up “Dropbox Studios” when it’s safe to do so. In the meantime, the company extended its mandatory work from home policy through June 2021.

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Robots And The Future Of Work

The phrase “The robots are coming” is often repeated these days. What does their arrival mean for the future of work? That question has short term implications, and the potential for profound long-term impacts. Ask around and you get vastly different perspectives on the question. We seem as polarized on the topic as we are about anything these days. A very good perspective was provided recently in an Article authored by Daphne Leprince-Ringuet. The article explores the possible changes to work as robots become a common feature in the work environment.

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The Augmented Age: An Accelerated Path

In a post from the summer of 2019, I explored the notion of an Augmented Age: a future where our natural human capabilities are radically augmented in three ways: Computational systems will help us think. Robotic systems will help us make. And a digital nervous system will connect us to the world far beyond what our natural nervous system can offer. Fast-forward to a world altered by COVID-19: Are we on an accelerated path to augmentation and automation? This recent Forbes Article takes an interesting look at the question from the perspective of lights out factories.

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Accelerating Towards Digital Transformation

It’s easy to view the current crisis as a catalyst for change. Lying beneath the surface are signals that major change is required, and when crisis emerges, hope for that change emerges with it. In most cases however, that change never materializes. The last two months have brought countless predictions of what is to come. While we need to consider the low percentage of successful post-crisis predictions in the past, two trends look likely to materialize: accelerated digital transformation, and a rapid path to automation.

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What Skills Do You Need To Outsmart Robots?

What job skills do we need for the future? A popular question that comes up a lot. In a Recent Post, I listed several: emotional intelligence, creativity, flexibility, adaptability, data literacy, and technology savviness. This Tweet of a World Economic Forum video adds complex problem solving, critical thinking, people management, working with others, and decision making to the list.

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MIT Report on the Future of Work

In a recent Article posted on the Singularity Hub, the author describes the first report of the MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future. This group of MIT academics was set up by MIT President Rafael Reif in early 2018 to investigate how emerging technologies will impact employment and devise strategies to steer developments in a positive direction. The primary finding from this report is that  it’s the quality of the jobs we should worry about – not the quantity.

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Automation Risk Levels

A popular question these days is: Will a robot take my job? That question is as popular as: what should my child study in school? At the heart of both questions is the fear that we as a society will automate anything that can be automated. This website may help bring some clarity – at least in the context of automation risk level. It’s very quick, simply enter your job and an automation risk level expressed as a percentage will be returned.

The Automation Spectrum

Ultimately, these questions are difficult to answer, as we cannot predict the jobs of the future – and required skill levels could be a moving target. The progression of automation can be viewed on a spectrum from augmenting humans to fully conscious machines. There are arguments being made on both ends of this spectrum – time will tell.

Republic 2.0 Added to Emerging Future Visual

In a recent book titled The Future of Work, author Darrell M. West describes the Work 2.0 scenario on this emerging future visual. In exploring possible implications of a shifting work paradigm, he gets prescriptive about possible responses. This implication-response exercise sits at the heart of Future Thinking.

No one can predict this complex and uncertain future – but exercises like this help us see possible futures. In seeing them, we position ourselves to proactively shape them. In the context of work, Mr. West explores several possible responses, including another future scenario which he calls Republic 2.0. How this scenario plays out has a direct impact on the path of other scenarios. The scenario speaks to a new kind of politics. Mr. West states:

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