22 November 2018 by Spencer Symmons
As great as the advancements that are being made in technology are, we have to remember that it is, so far, the work of humankind. We are not yet at a stage of digital evolution whereby robots are creating things from scratch – that requires sentience, freedom and true intelligence. Humans continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in everything from artificial intelligence and big data to fog computing and hardware innovations, and so much more.
It isn’t just tech developers that are being shunned, either. Many on-demand services, including Deliveroo and Uber, are tech companies operating within the service industry, which by its very nature relies heavily on people. The gig economy has come under a lot of scrutiny since it began really taking off, with workers not being offered the same rights as those in traditional employment and instead being treated as though they are self-employed – precarious pay, a lack of paid leave and self-assessment tax returns are not for the faint-hearted.
A recent proposal from Theresa May aims to improve that by bringing in worker protection, and while that is a hugely important step forward it should not need government intervention. Tech companies should be able to understand the true value of human interaction within an increasingly digital world. AI is not stealing our jobs, but as it becomes more prominent it pushes humans to the back of the processes and limits their exposure. As something becomes scarcer, it increases in value, and it’s time that tech firms woke up to that concept.
Humans have the ability to provide so much that tech can’t. Computers can follow a script word for word, letter for letter, and meet expectations with remarkable efficiency, but when was the last time you were pleasantly surprised because somebody met expectations? Good customer service and user experience comes from personality and over-deliverance. Only by taking a fresh look at the market and putting themselves in the shoes of the customer or user can tech companies begin to realise the opportunity of maintaining a human aspect in the face of automation and digital transformation.
One thing that will never change for companies is that their customers will always be human – their employees may not be as they begin harnessing automation, but the people they are there to serve will be. Marketing approaches that lack a human touch will not succeed, although the effect AI could have on creative industries has been debated, and this is a perfect example of how a company can use the technology to full effect without taking away their humanity.
That is what is crucial to businesses if they want to continue their success into the digital age. Breaking down jobs roles into tasks that can be automated and those that can’t so that machines are operating in a way that positively benefits the company, while humans are afforded more time for those critical tasks that need irreplaceable heart, creativity and brainpower. We must remember who is in control of the technology and not let it get on top of us.
Uber is so much more than just a mobile app. They would be nothing without their drivers, so while unmanned vehicles peak their head over the horizon and start edging closer to reality, it’s time they, and others, began treating their staff in a way that befits the importance of their role. We might not know how good we have it until we’re sat in a driverless taxi, trying to make conversation with KITT 3.0.
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