The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Is it time for a Chief Automation Officer?

Automation officer.pngOver the last few years, there has been quite a bit of discussion about the race against the machines (or the race with the machines), based on the abundance of computing available. When I think about the IoT and its implications on business, it may be that information is just a side effect of an entirely different corporate strategic effort.

 

Maybe there is a need for a Chief Automation Officer more than a Chief Information Officer going forward?!? Someone who looks at the business implications and opportunities for cognitive computing, sensing, robotics and other automation techniques.

 

Or is automation just assumed to be part of all future strategic planning activities. As I began thinking about it, it’s clear that others have thought about this CAO role as well, although mostly from an IT perspective instead of one based on business need. It could be viewed that this is a role for the CTO or even the enterprise architect.

Context, automation and the future of services

looking for direction.jpgThere recently was a story about a computer program that passed the Turing Test. When you get into the details of what was actually done, I am not sure it really qualifies. The fact that people are talking about the event though is enough to show that we’re pretty far down the road toward breaking down the perceived barriers between machines and human interaction.

 

These advanced levels of interaction capability are enabled by a new wave of AI applications that can capture context at scale and in near real-time. These solutions when they move out of the labs should be able to consume massive amounts of information and generate contextual understanding at a level that even the most intuitive individual would find difficult to match.

 

You might ask what does this mean for the future of services. Or where will it be of use to my organization? It should be applicable at just about any point where a conversation occurs with customer or between:

  • employee and employee
  • organization and organization
  • government and citizen

We may be able to automate interaction that isn’t face-to-face and even then it may need to be person to person with the likelihood we can overcome the uncanny valley.

 

These new context-aware, AI enabled interactions can provide a multi-level view on engagements and ‘experience’, allowing organizations to filter through the noise and latency (for example waiting for certain skills -- Spanish language) and shift the focus to an enriching experience, relationships, and achieving goals. I can easily see a future talking with an AI agent at the drive-up window, as a low-hanging opportunity.

 

The recent book The Second Machine Age, examines how society, the economy, and business will transform as digital technologies and smarter machines increasingly take over human occupations.

 

It makes you look for direction about who will robots put out of work? This interactive graphic from Quartz takes a stab at answering that question—exploring which U.S. jobs are most likely to become automated, and how many workers could be affected.

Can the law keep up with technology advances?

digital law.pngWay back in 2005, I wrote a blog post: Law and the Next Big Thing, where I asked the question: “Will Stare Decisis survive the next big thing?” Since the article I linked to in that post is now gone, it made me wonder about articles on the subject today.

 

Now almost 10 years later, there was a post by the World Future Society that is asking similar questions: What Does Moore’s Law Mean For the Rest of Society? The article looks at a number of areas like patents, and policing as well as robotic vehicles. He also looks at technologies effect on jobs and job creation where the author states:

“The new technologies that once created new industries and new jobs are now only creating new productivity without the jobs. Computers, robots, artificial general intelligence, and other technological advances have changed the economic game. From a business point of view, improved productivity is good; but from the point of view of public officials desperate to create jobs for their constituents, not so much. This may be the biggest disruption we face.”

 

I don’t take quite that negative a view, but as we can see from the recent employment numbers, we need to look for new services in order to have new employment.

FIRST Championship ‘14

FIRST.jpgThis week is the FIRST Robotics Championship in St. Louis. I am going to be a judge there again this year as part of team Archimedes. There will be 400 teams from across the globe in the FRC championship at the event.

 

FIRST is on a mission to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and have developed into a program with a proven track record of impact on student’s education and career choices.

 

I’ll try and post some pictures if I get a chance. If you'd like to watch it online, NASA will have a live webcast or it will even be on NASA TV on Thursday through Saturday.

Tags: FIRST| Robotics
Labels: FIRST| Robotics

FIRST Robotics Competition game for 2014 announced

Saturday was the kickoff for the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) for 2014. I’ve participated for the last 6 years, locating judges for the North Texas competition. This year, the NTX FRC event will take place on March 13th-15th at the Irving convention center. If you’re in town – be there. It’s free and an exciting show.

 

FRC allows students to start from a standard kit of parts and some state of the art tools, received at the kickoff, and build a robot attempting to meet specified objectives. At the end of the build period, the robots are packed up and they do not see them again until their first competition.

 

This video is an overview of this year’s challenge – Arial Assist:

  

 

I’ve found FRC to be an eye opening experience for the students and the volunteers. Every year I am surprised at the ingenuity and commitment demonstrated by those participating.

 

The main competition is judged by numerous factors beyond how they perform on the field, like:

  • Coopertition (helping others that you are competing against)
  • Project planning
  • Quality/safety
  • Technical achievement
  • Business plan and marketing

 

The on field performance is not judged, since it has its own rules… Referees determine the winners of that portion of the competition.

 

The goal of FIRST is to encourage the understanding and passion around STEM. It has a proven track record of results that is hard to argue with.

 

You can see some video from previous year’s NTX FIRST competition, if you are interested.

 

Tags: future| Robotics| STEM
Labels: Future| Robotics| STEM
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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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