In the Terminator films, the central theme of the story was that the machines eventually took charge and humans were facing an uncertain future. Today we are on the verge of entering a post-human era of our own, but without the bleak outcome for humanity that was portrayed in those popular movies.
In a world of automation and artificial intelligence, the physical manifestation of technology is changing. We have reached a point where our breakthroughs and advances have removed humans from the picture and repetitive tasks are being assigned to robots and computers.
Technology is also implementing and updating itself while intermediaries are disappearing and turning into a service. Take a look at Kodak; the photography giant followed the same path as analogue photography and has disappeared, yet since then the number of photos we take in this digital age has hit never-before-seen levels.
Even leading companies like Apple, Facebook and Amazon are taking a C2C (cloud to consumer) approach. In fact, retail stores are also transforming to be more reliant on technology. One store in Palo Alto is a space purely for customers to try new technologies before buying directly from Amazon using an iPad in-store.
Speaking of Amazon, the company has developed a new high-tech supermarket where customers simply walk into the store, scan their Amazon account barcode, and then just walk out with whatever they take off the shelf without waiting in a line or using a checkout.
Well they can’t use the checkout, because there isn’t one. Amazon is able to achieve this convenience using cameras, sensors, computer vision and deep learning. Yet another post-human scenario.
That’s not all Amazon have concocted. The release of Amazon Alexa and Google’s similar voice-activated platform, Google Home are becoming a universal part of our homes. Whether you’re looking for music, to buy products or seeking information, these devices are there to fulfill orders and converse with you. Privacy doesn’t seem to be an issue for users as they take advantage of the ‘disable microphone’ button to stop the device from listening.
However, as children take a liking to these devices, parents are concerned that it will not only deter their child’s attention away from the family, but also away from manners and courtesy in their communication. Alexa and Google Home are not one to be offended by a lack of ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, in fact, they respond best to straight forward demands.
And if children have taken a liking to such devices, just wait until they get a sight of ‘Kuri’, the roaming, multi-purpose security cam that sports the look of a Pixar character and has the personality to go with it. Kuri was launched at CES last week and is set to ship in December 2017.
What will happen in the post-human era was a riveting seminar topic at the 2016 Integrate expo. The next expo will be in August, 2017. Moving forward in this post-human era, if you want to get ahead, ironically you have to focus on talent and services. Quality, talented employees will be able to deliver quality services. It is these services that will earn customer trust and result in loyalty and repeat business.
The jobs of the future will be all the things computer, robots and artificial intelligence can’t achieve. Repetitive jobs in the automobile and textile industry are under threat and already fairly automated. Thankfully there are still a lot of things robots and computers can’t do so if you’re a sanitation worker, a greenkeeper, gardener or police office – you’re pretty safe.
Industries where technology can work in harmony with people will also thrive by providing services that can only be delivered by real people.
Have you ever become frustrated when talking to an automated reply while you’re trying to resolve an issue, seek technical support or make a complaint? Often in this scenario, people are thinking how much better and easier it would be to talk to a real person. And if you could guarantee this level of customer service and support, you will find that customers will stick with you.
So how do you prepare your business for 2020?
Focusing on service would be a great way to start. Provide that human touch that no robot or automation can provide. Ideas and good design – two creative traits that can only come from the wondrous human brain – will make the difference. Selling services will also be a growth area in the post-human era. Any area where creativity – another weakness for robots and computers – is needed is also another safe direction to take. If you have software engineers, network specialists and user interface designers in your business, you’re in good shape.
If you have respect for your customers and never compromise on service – you’ll have no worries in the post-human era.
About the Author: Stephen Fenech
Stephen Fenech is one of the most respected consumer technology journalists in Australia. He is the editor of the popular Tech Guide website where he publishes the latest reviews and tech commentary. Stephen can also be heard every Wednesday on 2GB on the Afternoon Show. He can also be seen on Channel 10’s Studio 10 where he is the resident tech and gadget expert. Stephen can also be heard on two of the highest-rating tech podcasts on iTunes – Tech Guide and Two Blokes Talking Tech.