The Next Era of Human-Machine Partnerships

Today, digital disruption is ruthlessly redrawing industries. For the first time in modern history, global leaders can’t predict how their industry will fare further down the line. According to Dell’s Digital Transformation Index, nearly one in two business leaders believe there is a possibility their company will become obsolete within the next three to five years and 48% don’t know what their industry will look like in just three years.

If organizations are struggling today – what does tomorrow have in store for them? Together with Institute for the Future, we released a forecast report that projects how emerging technologies will impact the way we work, live and do business 10-15 years into the future.

A Whole New World, Underpinned by Emerging Technologies

There tends to be two extreme perspectives about the future: the anxiety-driven issue of unemployment or the optimistic view that technology will solve all of the social-environmental problems of the world. However, the reality is, the future will likely fall somewhere in the middle.

Institute for the Future (IFTF) experts suggest that the technologies in play over the next decade have the potential to “solve some of the intractable problems that humanity has faced for so long, offer the opportunity to radically increase efficiency and productivity at scale in our own lives”. Emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), robotics, Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing to name a few, will accelerate and augment the digital direction we’re heading in.

Human-Machine Partnerships by 2030

Although we have lived and worked alongside technology for centuries, we’re about to see a change in our relationship with machines – characterized by even greater efficiency, unity and possibility than ever before.

“The potential of Human-Machine Partnerships is immense. Yes, we’ve partnered with machines for centuries but thanks to machine learning, we’re entering a new era, full of fresh possibilities for mankind. By offloading more, we’ll be able to focus on what humanity does best.”

Norman Wang, Executive Producer, Opaque Media

As technology’s power multiples 10 x every five years, so will our reliance on technology. This will result in deeper, richer partnerships where both parties will bring their own strengths to the table. Humans will bring skills such as creativity and problem solving, which can be applied against the background of human experience and societal context. And machines will bring speed, automation and radical new efficiencies. This will be a partnership in the truest form. Through this new dynamic, we’ll transcend our own limitations, productivity will reach new heights and new industries and roles will be created. Machines won’t replace us, but they will help us complete many more tasks.

The Rise of Digital Conductors

Today, more than 1,800 digital platforms exist that orchestrate our physical or human resources. These technologies are introducing society to the capabilities of coordinating technologies and resetting expectations about the ownership of fixed assets. Take for instance personal AI assistants that can be integrated into homes, cars, phones to do things like turn off lights, order items online, play music, book flights as well as offer tailored fashion advice – guided by machine learning.

In 2030, we’ll rely upon machines to manage even more aspects of our personal lives. We’ll effectively become ‘digital conductors’. Technology will function as an extension of ourselves, helping us better direct and manage our daily activities.

“Imagine this partnership seamlessly providing what we need, before we need. Today we have digital natives. In ten years’ we’ll have digital conductors.”

– Thuc Vu, Co-founder, OhmniLabs

For instance, OhmniLabs’ affordable telepresence home robots allow users to be in the same room as their family, friends and colleagues, without having to be physically present. So, if a parent is traveling with work but still wants to join the family dinners, support their children’s homework and play a hands-on role they can. Imagine when such technologies reach mass adoption. This partnership with machines will ease the day-to-day, increase efficiency and create more opportunities to connect. We’ll be able to radically transform the way we live.

Transforming the Workplace – Work Chasing People & In-the-Moment Learning

The implications of this partnership stretch well beyond our personal lives and into how we conduct business. The workplace will be made-over in terms of how it finds talent, manages resources, delivers services and facilitates careers.

Technology won’t necessarily replace us, but the process of finding work will flip. By 2030, work won’t be a place, but a series of tasks, which will be outsourced to the best talent across the world. To identify the right person for each task, work will chase (or find) the right people.

During the IFTF workshop, the experts estimated that around 85% of the jobs that today’s learners will be doing in 10 years’ time, haven’t even been invented yet. Many of these jobs will require skills that haven’t been learnt.

The pace of change will be so rapid, people will learn ‘in-the-moment’ using new technologies such as AR, VR – making the ability to gain new knowledge more valuable than the knowledge itself.

Preparing for the Future

Whether it’s finding the right talent, teaching employees new skills or being able to call upon a whole menu of services at a moment’s notice, deeper human-machine partnerships will be the force for change by 2030. Emerging technologies will reshape our lives and work forevermore. In the future, technology will be ingrained in all we do and every organization will be a digital organization, powered by software and analytics.

To realize this future, organizations will need to move fast, build capacity in their machines and develop their workforce’s complementary skills. Businesses will need to ready their workforce, their technical infrastructures and security in order to manage and power this change. Through adequate preparation and foresight organizations can realize technology’s potential to drive human progress. But the time to act is now, or else, organizations will be left behind.

To learn more read the full forecast report with “day in a life in 2030″ scenarios and explore these infographics on harnessing emerging technologies and the human-machine partnerships at a glance.