Wednesday, March 29 at 7pm, we delve into the automated future and what it means for us as humans with Only Humans Need Apply: Winners and Losers in the Age of Smart Machines by Thomas H. Davenport and Julia Kirby. (Also available as eBook through the library’s Overdrive collection. Click on eServices to find Overdrive.)
The Industrial Revolution brought millions of people from the farms to the factories as mass production began. Then automation came along and changed those positions. In the First Era of automation, machines relieved humans of manually exhausting work. (Remember John Henry, the the steel-driving man?)
Era Two is still washing through world economies and changing the way we handle repetitive and service-type work. (This is what really happened to the “card catalog.”)
Now in the dawn of the Third Era, we’re starting to see the impact of AI (artificial intelligence), smart machines that can purportedly handle decision-making, often better than humans.
So where are we? In a culture that often defines people by what they do and how hard they work, what happens if that is no longer necessary? Technologies can now learn, decide, predict and even comprehend much faster than the human brain, and the progress is accelerating. Where does this leave lawyers, nurses, teachers and editors – all the professions that rely on brain power?
Davenport and Kirby reframe the either/or questions to describe a future of increased productivity and success that is based on both humans and machines. Or, as it was described by a speaker I heard recently, it’s not a matter of replacing people with machines, but of people working collaboratively with machines called cobots.
Where’s it all heading? Let’s talk about it! Only Humans Need Apply: Winners and Losers in the Age of Smart Machines by Thomas H. Davenport and Julia Kirby on Wednesday, March 29 at 7pm at Madison Public Library.
Here are a couple of film clips to get your thoughts rolling. First “The Factory of the Future.”
But are you ready for a robot doctor?