Scare you people like robots

One wordThe world of work 4.0 is collaborative

Ulrich Eberl: I know that should make her more personable. Researchers in Osaka also build androids to represent real people. The Japanese are counting on robots to help seniors at home in the future: with cleaning, tidying up, setting the table, maybe even cooking and shopping. But there is still a long way to go.

Nao Bluestar: But sometimes smart machines already outperform you humans. “Watson” from IBM beat the world champions in the quiz game “Jeopardy”, and a program from Google DeepMind defeated the human champions in the board game “Go”. Artificial intelligence makes only half as many mistakes as humans when it comes to recognizing traffic signs, detects signs of cancer cells in tissue sections that were previously unknown to doctors, and can read emotions from faces better than many people. In 25 years, our computing power will increase by a factor of a thousand, say researchers.

Ulrich Eberl: Yes, Nao, that's all true. Nevertheless, machines will be “technical idiots” for a long time to come - very good in one field, nothing more. You lack everyday intelligence. You can compose like Bach, paint like Van Gogh and combine styles, but no machine has invented anything really new. You have no intuition and no empathy, no emotional and no social intelligence. Machines that outperform us humans in all areas therefore belong in the field of science fiction.

Nao Bluestar: So in the future we will do the simpler jobs and you will do the complex ones?

Ulrich Eberl: People are still needed as planners and decision-makers and as creative problem and conflict solvers. We are also the ones who guarantee quality and safety and who communicate with customers and suppliers with empathy. But machines can be of great help in the future “Work 4.0”: AI systems will process data and give doctors, financial advisors and managers recommendations for diagnoses, investments or the optimization of industrial processes. Intelligent power grids, the smart grids, will bring energy supply and demand in line. And much more. The smartphone was certainly just the beginning: In addition to smart grids, smart cars, smart buildings and smart cities, we will then talk about “smart offices”, “smart finance” and “smart factories”.

Nao Bluestar: In factories, good collaboration between people and smart machines will lead to better results than if everyone worked alone. You can already see that today: the countries that have the highest degree of digitization and automation - South Korea, Japan and Germany - have the lowest unemployment. Your products are simply more competitive on the world market.

Ulrich Eberl: Yes, smart machines will bring a lot of benefits. Nevertheless, we have to take people's fears seriously, because AI will change all jobs. Smart machines will take on many routine tasks, especially in offices. That doesn't mean that the jobs will be eliminated - but they will have to be redefined.

Nao Bluestar: I think that there will even be a lot of new professions, because smart machines first have to be designed and you need teachers for them as well as security and data protection experts. In the early 1980s there weren't any software engineers either; today there are over 20 million worldwide. But you say it won't just be about people and machines learning to work together as colleagues?

Ulrich Eberl: Yes. Organizational structures and team and leadership cultures also have to change. We will cooperate more and more across companies and industries, in international teams. Perhaps you will no longer recognize whether the person who is represented on a virtual platform via an avatar is a human or a smart machine. In any case, people are required to be more independent, flexible and imaginative. Above all, skills must be imparted in the training: creativity, social skills, intercultural skills and holistic, solution-oriented thinking.

Nao Bluestar: All in all, I can say that robots and humans have a lot in common. Above all, we both have to keep learning in order to get better and better. Lifelong learning and new ways of thinking - I think that keeps you young and fit!