LOOKING CLOSELY AT THE BOT REVOLUTION, POPULATED BY BOTH HUMANS AND ROBOTS. Our clients often ask what it means for their companies to be facing a future which will be populated by both humans and robots. So let’s take a look at those future prospects by devoting this issue of Change Strategists’ LEAD-ZINE to that purpose. For one thing, the worry that often surfaces is that the robots will pose a threat to humanity.
InThe Future of Everything, this challenge is seen as being overcome by teaching the robots to work with humans. That is, incorporating regular human feedback into the robots, and, thus, “humanizing” the bots by “teaching them not only skills but also complex motivations and subtle goals that must be communicated precisely.” That’s the proposed future of robots.
The realities of the present, however, are a bit different. Another of the big questions has been whether robots will compete with workers. This dilemma has been mastered well by a number of manufacturing companies, in particular, currently using robots in their processes. One of the effective uses of bots is seen at a German factory where robots take the place of workers at an auto parts manufacturer to grab scalding-hot auto parts from an oven so that the worker (the bot’s partner) can inspect those parts to determine if they have failed a safety test. The robot, dubbed “Fritz,” is more efficient at handling the repetitive and dangerous task of lifting the 8-inch metal pieces out of the furnace. This leaves the human worker less exposed to potential accidents and gives him time to test 20% more parts than he did before partnering with the robot. In the manufacturing arena as well as the food and service sectors, assigning robots to the repetitive tasks frees human workers to do higher-value tasks. The German company, Bosch, profiled above, has used robots to increase its productivity. Bosch factories, worldwide, now use 140 robotic arms to speed the company’s production.
The bond titan, Pimco, which once relied upon one man to make many of its key investment decisions, is betting a big part of its future on millions of lines of software code – in other words, on AI processes that can trade bonds electronically. Thus, the new hires at the Austin, TX facility will be mostly engineers tasked with modernizing PIMCO’s technology systems, both the tools used to harness new databases of information as well as the platforms that are created for electronic trading. PIMCO, in other words, is betting big on the possibility of a future with robots working full-tilt.
That’s not exactly the face of AI investitures with the wider array of American companies, however. Given the amount of time spent talking about the future of robots during the past few years, many companies have yet to embrace the practice. Primarily, this is because most companies are not set up to make the switch, which requires a solid understanding of how machine learning works and where it can best be applied. Thus, rather than advancing with creative applications that could generate new revenue or products, most companies, for the time being, are focusing on small-scale changes, or tinkering around the edges. Whereas the addition of something as simple as forecasting procedures in a company could generate large improvements to its profits, electronically-enhanced processes have yet to be embraced in any serious way. One likely reason is that changes such as these are actually more all-encompassing than just the simple method of changing a company’s process, to, say, full-scale forecasting. The change also requires changing employee behavior as the employees learn to work with new technologies. The same will apply to all uses of robots to interface with human employees. Remember: ALL THE MOVING PARTS – always a highly-important factor to keep in mind when thinking of things relating to AI, electronic processes, robots and other specifics of computerized processes meant to relieve humans of some of the workload – it alls has to work together – even the robots.
LOOKING CLOSELY AT THE BOT REVOLUTION, POPULATED BY BOTH HUMANS AND ROBOTS