Future of cars

The future of work may be no future at all

By: Judith Carr
Published: Monday, March 9, 2015 - 07:58 GMT Jump to Comments

The inevitable result of the push toward digital and ever more sophisticated programmes and systems, will be the development of artificial intelligence and robotics.

This coming weekend I will be going to FutureFest 2015.  Why am I excited about this and why am I prepared to spend a valuable weekend listening, looking at, and talking about 'the future', when many of my friends and colleagues look at my interest in these matters as just whimsy?

I would not call myself a "Whovian", but I did grow up watching Dr Who and science fiction. I can still remember the genuine dismay felt during the 3 day week, in Yorkshire,  when we had a power cut just as the theme tune to Star Trek came on. This, of course, was in the days before video and wall to wall repeats.  

I have not been to that many tech events but one thing I do know is you have to mug up on your preferences before you go. Timing is tight, you have to move around, sometimes sacrificing the end of one event for the beginning of another (especially if you want to sit down), or walk in after a speaker has started. You mustn't be too rigid in following your plan; a spur of the moment choice may lead to a discovery or an interesting discussion with a neighbour.

So I have been looking at the programme. On Saturday I am obviously going to have to juggle experiencing the sweetshop of the future with Hurdy- Gurdy Inventions (no I have no idea but with a title like that you just have to find out) and Digital Innovation in Emerging Markets, and I don't want to miss Vivienne Westwood on capitalism. On Sunday I need to be in three places at once, for The Future of Confectionery, Mapping our Digital Cities with Data and a discussion about our next economy.

It is no coincidence that it is not just those organising and attending FutureFest who are looking at the impact of technology on our future. Two recent programmes in the Analysis series on Radio 4 have been about artificial intelligence and the use of robots. A threat to middle class white collar jobs or an opportunity for new roles? I suppose we will know in another ten years. For now the jury is still out.

All those involved, however, think some kind of artificial intelligence is inevitable. The push toward digital - for it is data and patterns in data that lead to the development of more sophisticated and better programmes and systems - will only advance the demand for some kind of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics.

Science fiction is becoming reality and we ought to talk about it. Recently Stephen Hawking has spoken out about the threats of AI while others are more persuaded by the opportunities. BBC World News will be broadcasting the recent Intelligence² debate ' BE AFRAID, BE VERY AFRAID: THE ROBOTS ARE COMING AND THEY WILL DESTROY OUR LIVELIHOODS' in April.

Of course, I do not know the answers and indeed sway between keen interest to see what will develop and genuine concern about how something so out of my control will change my children's and grand children's lives.

The premise that this new future will bring about a change in jobs does make sense. So, ironically, does Pippa Malmgren's statement made during the Radio 4 Analysis programme - that she now advises young students not to do business degrees and the like, but go into 'hardware' vocational jobs/training.

Her argument is that the World will need people who know how to make and programme stuff. Come to think of it, this is why I told my youngest to get a grip and learn how to manipulate spreadsheets and data.

So we cannot view all this as science fiction anymore and we must be prepared to discuss the shape of our futures. We don't have to be philosophers, professors, scientists or sci-fi fantasists to take part in the debate

The recent film 'Ex Machina' was  about creating  artificial intelligence but I couldn't help feeling the whole story would not have been possible if we had accepted Issac Asimov's 3 laws of robotics. Oops - science fiction again.

FutureFest 2015

Man vs Machine 

Steven Hawking warns 

Intelligence² debate 

Asimov - the three laws of Robotics 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Information Daily, its parent company or any associated businesses.



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