The Automation Age: PEOPLE VS PROCESS
Preamble // Trailer Video for AlphaGo, The Movie
The Automation Age: PEOPLE VS PROCESS
We are living in a time where digital technologies are disrupting entire industries. Technological advancement is changing the way that people interact and how systems operate.
Now, in the 21st Century, the Automation Age as we will call it, we need to be more mindful than ever with the purpose of taking people out of the process.
This time period is also termed “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” and it is automating not only menial, manual tasks, for people to be alleviated from onerous activities, but now, we are automating higher functioning processes through machine learning and artificial intelligence which is having a significant impact on people and our part in the process of evolution.
A defining characteristic of all the industrial revolutions is reskilling as a result of automation changing the involvement of people for some tasks, usually manual. The result being a more skilled population as manual labour can be performed by machines.
Each revolution changed the trajectory of technological advancement and human interaction in processes.
For the first time in history we are at a point where automation or Artificial Intelligence (AI) is able to advance itself without human intervention. The Third Industrial Revolution introduced standalone assembly lines with the Programmable Logic Controller invented by Dick Morley to create machine automated processes, where machines are now able to optimise on their own. As AI progresses we need to start asking ourselves some pertinent questions. Where do people fit in the picture of the future? How should people reskill when machines learn themselves? Will humanity harness technology for our own purposes or will technology develop a mind of its own? We don’t have all the answers and aren’t drawing any conclusions but we do want you to consider the point we are at and what the future could look like. The urgency of reskilling is highlighted by a quote from the former President of the United States, Barack Obama.
When weighing up the benefits of AI and the possibilities of unanticipated anomalies, could we anticipate a point where it could take a turn of its own, where either AI or humanity will prevail? This could be the battle we are not far from facing; the showdown of the Century: People VS Process.
There was a battle of Man VS Machine in March 2016 over an abstract strategy board game, invented by the Chinese 3000 years ago called Go. Go is an extremely simple game designed for two players with the aim to capture more territory than the opponent. As simple as it is, it is intricately complex with more combinations than Chess… 10 to the power of 100 more combinations than Chess, in fact.
The showdown was between Lee Sedol, the South Korean Go World Champion, and AlphaGo, an Artificial Intelligence program using Machine Learning (deep neural networks) and Tree Search techniques to play Go. The significance?
This was a point in history and a moment in time that tipped towards the advancement of Artificial Intelligence.
The scales turned during game 2, move 37 when Alphago made a move that was unanticipated by human expectations and also led to its victory. What gets shadowed, though, is the significance of a later move by Lee Sedol in game 4, move 78, which stunted AlphaGo as it too was unanticipated by its own algorithm. This shows how incredibly quickly AI has progressed but also how humans have an extraordinary ability to adapt and reskill in unknown circumstances. The result? The machine won but man also pushed new boundaries.
Where to since then? Google owned, DeepMind, undertook a project called AlphaGo Zero where AlphaGo learned by itself, without any human input or interaction, by playing itself with a process called “Reinforcement Learning”. Within 3 days AlphaGo was able to defeat itself 100 to 0 and discovered moves of its own, as you would expect, and are unconventional to human players.The stance has now changed where some of the best human Go players and experts are now studying these new moves, invented by Alphago Zero / AI. This is a significant step towards General AI from Functional or Narrow AI as AlphaGo is able to learn from itself without people dictating or guiding the process. If you want to dig deeper, here is an article published by The Guardian “It’s Able to Create Knowledge Itself: Google Unveils AI that Learns from Itself”.
Where to now?
As technology advances at the “speed of innovation”, it is vitally important to anticipate change and adapt to not be caught off-guard. Individuals and businesses need to consider what opportunities technological advancement will bring us and how we can best reskill to harness the value creation capabilities of automation.
There is an age old adage which goes like this: “Don’t put the cart before the horse”. I think that it goes without saying that technology is able to steer itself. As AI develops, case in point with Alphago Zero, people are pushing to new levels aided by automation. We are at an inflection point in technological development where AI is able to steer the process of automation without human interaction. With the analogy of the cart and the horse; it may not be that strange to see it going that way. As silly as it may sound and as valid as the expression is, the more I think about it…
I have come to realise that we have already put the cart before the horse with automobiles.
The automobile, which replaced horse-drawn carriages, was patented in 1886 by German inventor Karl Benz. In years to come, the “Father of Mass Production”, Henry Ford, pioneered the adoption of assembly line techniques for mass production of the Ford Model T. Horses are now drawn by automobiles. So the cart is metaphorically and ironically before the horse.
Henry Ford was a pioneer, an innovator and a revolutionist who ushered in the Second Industrial Revolution and can be considered partly to blame for putting the cart before the horse, so to speak. One of his most famous quotes is:
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”. – Henry Ford
We are living in a time where we need to be listening to customer expectations but I believe we should be following the example of Henry Ford; creating the customer experience people didn’t even know they wanted.
This is possible with Marketing Automation. At Matte Black Brand Agency, we have made our own move with MAT (Marketing Automation Technology).
“Seeing is believing”, so the expression goes. We invite you to see it for yourself by booking a free ticket to the magic show. If you are not amazed… we will be.
If you haven’t already, go ahead, fill out the form and we will set some time aside to show you the magic that is Marketing Automation, in the flesh or virtually in the flesh (via teleconference). Not only will we give you the opportunity to have all your questions answered, we will show you the secret, which any magician worth his money would say is pure silliness; but we want you to see what it could do for you too.
Seriously, we literally, have an ace up our sleeve, or the card you choose… if you fill out the form.
Back to the bigger picture of where this sits in the scheme of things, in the Automation Age. Where does technological advancement take us? I can’t say for certain but I do enjoy the conjecture. What we can say is that it’s time to adapt, adopt new technologies and be prepared for our digitally disruptive era. As the battle of People VS Process progresses, I am willing to take a stance that it is not one as opposed to the other but rather a collaborative opportunity for each to enhance the other.
“Neither technology or people determines the other, but each shapes the other.” – Peter Drucker
In conclusion, I see the Automation Age as an inflection point in history, we are entering into, where the pace of progress will accelerate as people and processes develop with advancing technology. It is not purely a case of pulling people out of the process for increased organisational efficiency and shareholder profits but a time to evaluate automation of activities and reskill people to do what we do better than machines do, connect and collaborate.
If you are intrigued and want to dig deeper, there are 3 ways that you can build your brand // business with Marketing Automation Technology
About the Author:
Russell is the Founder and Principal of Matte Black Brand Agency. He is passionate about the heart of humanity: people. Digital disruption is very quickly changing the way that people interact and the way that companies do business. The focal point of all technological advancement always has, and always will point to people.