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The Future of Work - Staying on the Positive Side of Technology

Mr Thomas Martin

Mr Thomas Martin, CEO and Lead Consultant, Forward Intelligence Group, and Member of APARA

The long-term effects of the COVID-19 outbreak are still largely in the dark, but it is already clear that our experiences with remote work will shape the future of work going forward. Our increased use of technology is already leading to cleaner air and lower CO2 emissions, improved work-life balances, and increased collaboration.

Technology has always paved the way to a better future. We created it to benefit us. But its use requires cautious decisions that balance the positive and negative aspects of it. Some technologies have clear dual uses such as flying robots (like drones), nuclear power and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Technology also requires careful consideration in its application. As we enter the second phase of the third industrial revolution, the use of Information Technology (IT) becomes more pervasive. AI gives IT a brain, Internet-of-Things (IoT) gives it senses, robotics legs and digitization the ability to access, understand and manipulate the physical world.

These technologies are driven by ever increasing computing power, miniaturization, and mountains of data. Most importantly - they are multiplicative. Having senses provides data for you to make better decisions that allow you to take more effective actions automatically. We are only starting to understand the potential of those technologies and their combinations.  

The transition from the current to the new world of work will not be without challenges. Throughout all industrial revolutions, entry level workers had to skill-up but were always able find work after all. Low-level jobs moved from fields to factories and eventually to services.  

Now, some of those jobs may be taken by machines. Self-service, autonomous vehicles, and intelligent chat bots are only hinting at what may be possible in the future.

Digitalization is now a must. The platform, sharing, gig, and other economies provide a powerful foundation that one can only tap into with digital mastery. They are global, operate on data and rely on fast and flexible transactions powered by standards and APIs. Those economies only provide value when used. Their most powerful use is to build ecosystems.

Ecosystems flexibly combine capabilities, resources, products, and services to serve existing or new customer audiences better through cooperation and collaboration. Often, they are initiated by a single company like Apple or Google. Other companies choose to join and may play in several, potentially competing ecosystem in parallel. Examples for ecosystems include initiatives to build smart cities and mobility.

Ecosystems are the next step in the evolution of our economies. In the past, individuals networked to form companies. Now, companies network to form ecosystems.

Ecosystems blur industry delineations. The recent consolidation of Singapore’s 23 industry transformation maps into six sector clusters recognizes this.

Ecosystems and automation are two important trends to follow to understand the future of work. They work well together.

The agile movement is coming at the right time. It enables continuous learning and adaptation to the ever faster changing environments. Only humans learn with a consciene.  Machines cannot. If we focus our human activities there, automation will not threaten us. We can fully embrace technology while we shift our focus to collaborating with others on building new ecosystems. In such a future of work, humans will stay relevant for a long time.

Humans will also be needed to shape the increasingly complex human-machine relationship. Traditionally, humans operate machines as our arms, legs and brains. Autonomous machines make the human-machine relationship more complex: Machines will support us, we will support machines, and collaborate with them using new interfaces.

The future of work is shaped by technology that drives automation and the formation of new ecosystem. To stay on the positive side of this development we need thought-leadership and guidance by strong values, purpose, and governance.

If we are successful, we will bring the best of machines and humans to bear for the benefit of all of society, humanity and the planet.

Mr. Thomas Martin will be delivering two workshops on his insights of how technology can be leveraged to embrace the Future of Work design and augmented to support the new normal during the upcoming AIBotics 2020 Conference. More details can be found on the website:

AIBotics 2020 will be held in August 2020 with a 2 Day Conference and Exhibition, plus an additional day of workshops and tutorials. The theme for 2020 is “Augmenting the Human Potential”. This understanding and implementation of AI in Robotics across the wide range of applications aim to bring together the most progressive end-users, first-class speakers, and innovative solution providers.

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