Future work technologies will go from cows to cloud

September 27, 20184 minute read

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The thought of losing your job to a robot can feel terrifying—and it’s a fear that’s quickly beginning to feel like an imminent reality. But what if, instead of being replaced by future work technologies, like artificial intelligence, you worked alongside machines to improve accuracy, increase efficiency, and achieve better outcomes? Doesn’t sound too bad.

This more comforting version of the future is called human-machine collaboration, and it’s already happening across the globe. Take Chitale Dairy in India, for example. This company helps small dairy farms improve milk yields by collecting and analyzing data from microchipped cows. By regularly tracking the well-being of their livestock, farmers can keep cows healthier, increase milk production, and improve the quality of their milk products, which in turn, helps small farms turn a profit and boosts the local economy.

This type of innovative, scalable solution can revolutionize not only the world of agriculture but potentially every other industry, too. While chatter about robots and the recent proliferation of new AI technology has stirred up questions and concerns for the future of work, human-machine collaboration is nothing new. Here are a few industries already leading the way:

Keep up with the advancements in healthcare

In 2000, the FDA approved the first robotic surgical system. Since then, surgeons have been able to perform highly sophisticated procedures with less invasiveness and greater accuracy. Complex and delicate life-saving surgeries that were once too challenging to be performed regularly are now more feasible thanks to human and machine collaboration.

AI is also helping doctors with everything from preventive care decisions based on health tracker data to early detection of diseases and diagnosis of difficult-to-pinpoint health issues thanks to machine-assisted healthcare data analysis.

Watch as transportation and logistics tech gets a face-lift

The invention of the car was one of the biggest leaps in human-machine collaboration. Since then, planes, trains, and automobiles have continued to grow in sophistication. In 2017, aircraft maker Boeing aroused concerns when the company announced a self-flying plane. But here’s the kicker: the modern airplane system is already mostly set to autopilot, with human pilots only handling weather and fuel tracking or taking over for more unpredictable situations, such as especially rough storms and emergency landings.

On the logistics side, shipping, delivery, and supply chain management organizations already rely heavily on algorithms that improve everything from packing boxes to choosing carriers, determining the most efficient delivery routes, and providing customers greater tracking visibility. Future work technologies will only advance these algorithms further.

Evolve alongside finance and accounting tools

As anyone who’s worked an entry-level position in finance or accounting can attest, record keeping and data entry are not only boring and mundane, they also have a huge risk of human error. But as organizations employ more AI-powered tools, these errors become fewer and farther between. Accounting software vendors now offer automation for data entry, reconciliation, and even auditing.

But one of the greatest opportunities for collaboration between machines and finance and accounting professionals is in the area of fraud detection. Machines can recognize minor breaks in patterns faster than humans, which can stop fraud, reduce theft, and make it easier to catch criminals in the act. Once something is flagged, humans can jump in to take the necessary steps to notify law enforcement and resolve the situation.

Leverage the benefits of collaborating with machines

There’s no doubt people are torn on the idea of AI, increased automation, and working alongside robots. While these new technologies will inevitably shake things up, there are a few key benefits to them:

  • Less time spent on menial tasks. Few people enjoy tedious, repetitive tasks—but machines don’t care. Not only does human-machine collaboration potentially free you from the less enjoyable aspects of your job, but it also gives you the opportunity to focus on bigger projects, grow your skill set, or achieve a better work-life balance.

  • Less emotion and bias in decision making. Robots don’t have knee-jerk reactions rooted in anger, nor do they hesitate and second-guess themselves. While human consideration is necessary in some cases, machines can make decisions rooted in facts and data.

  • Improved on-the-job safety. Whether it’s diffusing a bomb or inspecting a condemned building, robots can help everyone—from law enforcement and firefighters to military personnel—stay a little safer.

Understand security in a human-machine world

Of course, the more technology brought into the workplace, the more entry points created for potential security breaches. Instead of simply securing your computers, you’ll need to secure everything that runs on your network—and today, that includes everything from badge scanners to printers. In a world where machines are involved in nearly every aspect of your day and AI is quickly becoming more at home in an office environment, security should always be a top priority. Imagine if someone managed to hack your financial automation software or your self-flying plane.

That’s no reason to avoid investing in AI or other innovative technologies, though. It simply means you must be diligent about how you fortify your network. These tools aren’t technologies to deploy lightly. But if you’re smart and secure about how you go about it, you could completely revolutionize your business.

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