In 10 years the world of work may be totally unrecognisable from today. Reading about some of the probable, possible and plausible future workplace scenarios is fascinating – who doesn’t like to gaze into a crystal ball and imagine what the future might look like?
And yet, in our era of breakneck technological innovation, populist politics and constant connectivity, the future doesn’t seem quite so far off as it once did. As science fiction and science fact draw ever closer, could this be the end of the working world as we know it?
Take Artificial Intelligence (AI), which covers a swathe of technology that includes computerisation, machine learning, processing and data. Four years ago there was 4.4 zettabytes of data in the world, a figure that is expected to increase ten-fold by 2020.
Bigger data sets and more intricate algorithms will assist with medical breakthroughs; allow customers and business leaders to make better-informed decisions and companies to work in more innovative ways.
Whatever sector you work in, AI is coming your way and will soon be taking on many of the difficult, demeaning, dull or dangerous jobs currently done manually. Many of the skills and professions we rely on today will be eliminated.
At what point will the roles of writers and editors be resigned to the history books, for instance?
While the robots haven’t yet taken over, the buzz around AI has grown loud enough to make CEOS around the world take note, and not just ‘futurists’ who work in the tech industry. In the next three years, telecoms and financial services are expected to lead the way in AI tech spending, but AI’s impact will penetrate the communications industry also.
As AI increases and we see robots start to appear to make decisions, one can’t help but wonder about the ethics of the ‘decisions’ made by machines. With people becoming ever more reliant on AI for the news, information and advice they need, at what point will people become removed from the communications process altogether?
Technology will continue to transform how we communicate. By harnessing the power of chatbots, for instance, to deliver instant messages and communicate directly with our companies’ workforces, the role of communicators will inevitably need to adjust and evolve.
But I’d like to think there will always be a place for human intuition, emotion, creativity and common sense that artificial intelligence can’t replicate.