Machines can never replace humans - they can, at best, make humans better and more efficient!!
Machines can never jostle for space with humans, leave alone replace them. When we talk about the future of enterprise systems, we hear about extreme computing speeds, bots replacing human actions, robots replacing humans, internet of everything and more. So, it’s only logical for most people to see technology expanding horizontally (better devices, better computing and better connectivity). Defining the future of technology merely from the present circumstances would not only be too simplistic, but would actually be quite shallow. So, let’s take a step back in understanding its evolution itself. Taking inference and drawing parallels to the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (proposed by Abraham Maslow in 1943) that suggests natural human evolution across various steps driven by their intrinsic motivation for progression.
Man created fire and basic weapons to satisfy his rudimentary needs of food and shelter. With time, the need for safety led him to invent the concept of homes and better weapons. The next natural progression happened towards establishing a sense of belonging, for which man started getting mobile: transporting goods and people. From a technology viewpoint, this is where the need for communication devices & modes of transportation (land, water & air) took its root. With further advancements, man’s need to feel exclusive led to all the cool technologies we’re discussing today: Apps, Satellites, Sophisticated devices (tablets, wearables, embedded systems, etc.), connected experiences and more. The peak of this evolution is what Maslow calls “Self-Actualization”, a complete realization of human abilities– the future which calls for the emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in its nearest cognitive sense (almost emulating human cognitive ability)
All of this clearly suggests that evolution of science/technology happened to support human evolution. Technology has been a great prop in aiding this progression – to help humans and not really the other way around. The climax to this series isn’t humans being replaced by machines at all. It’s technology progressing to understand human cognition better!
Let’s now consider two instances of how human intervention is still centripetal for technologies to function holistically. First instance of this is Healthcare. While many healthcare providers are opening up doors for robotic surgery equipment & algorithms, the idea is to free doctors from redundant conversations/tasks, to expand the reach and impact of their expertise and not really to replace the expert himself. As most people may think, technology can never replace medicine. That was never the problem statement to start with! The idea was to provide quality healthcare to more people in faster & efficient ways, where the “quality” itself is an advancement the field of medicine will take onus of.
Secondly, think of Internet of Everything. By connecting everything and everyone using sensors, cloud & more, imagine the lakes of data we are accumulating. While it can help us understand relevant patterns & predict potential failure points, it’s only when systems are told what’s most meaningful to capture & draw insights from, will they be of help to mankind. Else, we will end up in what can be a Data Apocalypse, where data will not only get over-burdening but also misleading and dangerous.
All of this illustrates that humans ought to be at the centre of technology! So, let’s now translate this understanding to the evolution of Enterprise systems. Phase 1 of the evolution was more around streamlining, creating & managing systems of records/transactions and automating processes (Systems replacing repetitive human efforts). Phase 2 was around optimization and creation of intelligent & autonomic systems (Systems that learn from data & adapt accordingly).
Having witnessed the success of phase 1 and starting to taste the fruits of phase 2 is making the industry believe that the future will be automation in its entirety. But, the reality is we are now at an Inflection point, where we’re confronted with two clear choices; Systems replacing human intelligence (reducing human intervention to bits) and Systems augmenting human intelligence (Enhancing the impact of human intelligence by making information more intimate and accelerating decision-making exponentially)
To think the next big leap will certainly be about expanding the horizon of technological inventions blindly, until we reach the imaginary point of artificial intelligence, is definitely hitting a dark tunnel. It’s time we pause & understood its relevance, context & utility for humans. Based on this understanding, machines & systems should be engineered to comprehend & learn from human cognition and feed this intelligence back into their functioning. That is what would be natural and realistic!
Let’s herald an era of Human Intelligent Systems which re-defines the way the world communicates & functions as a whole. In such a system, humans will push the barriers like never before, which in-turn will push systems to learn, get augmented with intelligence, use that augmented autonomic intelligence to push organizations to continuously learn and evolve. This is what will define the future of Enterprise Mobility – a constructive future we all look forward to!