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Here is a phrase uttered and written so much that it has practically become a trope: Beware, robots will take our jobs.

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Technology-enabled automation has always taken away old jobs, e.g., we do not need phone operators to manually connect us. But people conveniently forget how automation also creates new jobs, e.g., maintainers and improvers of phones. To that end, the video featured a truck driver whose duties evolved along with the development of automated truck-driving.

The automated truck-driving segment ended with the test driver stating that AI was not making people redundant. It was doing jobs that people no longer wanted to do.

The next video segment featured an automated sea port that moved the containers that arrived in ships. The repeated theme was that the human responsibility shifted from moving the containers to maintaining the robotic cranes and vehicles that moved the containers.

An important concept from both segments was that current AI might have good specific intelligence, but it has poor general intelligence. If an environment is controlled or if the problem is structured, AI is often safer, more efficient, and more effective than people.

The final video was about a chain’s pizza order prediction, preparation, and delivery. It emphasised how humans and AI work together and countered the popular narrative of AI taking humans entirely out of the equation.

The underlying message was that people fight change that they do not like or do not understand. This is true in AI or practically any other change, e.g., policy, circumstance, practice.

You can deliver a pizza. You can deliver a lecture. You can also deliver a lecture like a pizza, hopefully hot, delicious, and ready to eat.

But you cannot deliver learning.

Talk is cheap (OK, the speaker may be expen$ive). Even the most inspiring lecture, talk, or storytelling session is just words.

The longstanding joke is that NATO is short for “no action, talk only”. Learning is a result of moving, not just being moved. There must be jolt or shift in values, mindsets, behaviours, etc.

Even this reflection is just words. Evidence of learning is in the actions that we take to change people, processes, and products.

What have you changed in the course of your work?

Today’s reflection has been brought to you by Captain Obvious. But since some folks are not aware of this alternative hero, I am providing a soapbox for him to stand on.


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