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A recent report by PWC claims that 30% of jobs in Britain are at risk from the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and that in some sectors, as many as half! Those jobs most at risk are in low skilled areas such as retail, manufacturing and waste management.
The idea of robots supporting humans has been with us since The Steam Man of the Prairies – first published in Irwin’s American Novels in 1868. It portrayed literature’s first ‘robot’ or non-sentient automaton – called the Steam Man and robots have been with us ever since.
It’s true that robots and AI can replicate the movements and actions of humans, visually reflecting human form and motion, but we also rely on less obvious automatons in the everyday objects that we may not think of as robots. From Smart phones to electric kettles; replacing the actions we would otherwise be required to take – a heat sensor linked to an off switch removing the need to watch a kettle boiling on a stove. And from the Fitbit wrapped our wrists, measuring our heartrates to cochlear implants and other humanly invasive technology, the line between people and technology is increasingly blurred. We are heading towards the next level of transhumanism.
Columbia University’s Professor of Mechanical Engineering Hod Lipson recently highlighted the robot’s increasing ability to improve decision making, reducing failures. He noted: “AI and machine learning is closing the accuracy gap. Since 2010 the open source community has been working on the algorithm to get the error rate down to 3.5 per cent, which is better than humans. A real turning point.”
Running B2B brand and marketing agencies throughout my career, firstly building Gyro from the ground up to deliver great lead generation marketing programmes and now Silver to do the same along with slightly more emphasis on brand, video and of course web, I have seen first-hand the impact technology has had on the creative industry. I began my career designing with marker pens and art-working with CS10 board and cut and paste. Then along came the Mac II to replace the outsourcing of type-setting and soon, full-blown desktop publishing had been democratised and placed into our hands, worthy or not!
This revolution has expedited processes in the creative services industry, particularly the sharing of ideas. In fact, I was personally involved in launching Adobe Acrobat at The Eiffel Tower, as a proof and approval tool, with John Warnock and Charles Geschke in 1993. Acrobat has since become a document transfer staple. At the time it had a huge impact on the jobs of all the motorcycle couriers tasked with carrying the portfolios and ads across the world’s capitals.
It’s clear that many processes can be automated; computers can excel in well-structured areas of problem solving such as logic and algebra but can AI really be creative when creativity is considered by most to be an essential component of human intelligence. Margaret Boden, author of ‘The Creative Mind: Myths and Mechanisms’ discusses the idea that creativity is just an unpredictable combination of ideas. If so, computer modelling of creativity would be simple, it can combine ideas at random until something creative emerges. If not, we must find a more adequate theory of creativity before computer creativity is possible.
It is my belief that the most creative and fresh ideas come from making connections between previously unconnected experiences, and like dreams, they can never be adequately explained by science. It is a wonder of human nature and to be cherished by humans who possess the gift of being able to imagine and to dream. We will always hold a higher form of consciousness than a computer ever will.
John Andrews, the head of technology and investments at PWC, said: “In the future, knowledge will be a commodity so we need to shift our thinking on how we skill and upskill future generations. Creative and critical thinking will be highly valued, as will emotional intelligence.”, furthermore; “Automating more manual and repetitive tasks will eliminate some existing jobs but could also enable some workers to focus on higher value, more rewarding and creative work…”
Creative Director and Founder of Gyro and Silver
We live in a process orientated and driven world – a world in which driving will soon be taken out of our hands and in which our children’s homework is distributed, completed and marked on-line.