If you have had a cup of coffee lately, you have probably been served by a robot. It may not have been a “baristabot” that took your order or handed you your latte at your local coffee shop, but somewhere along the line from bean to breve, an intelligent machine most likely played a role in producing your coffee.
Employing robots and other intelligent machines in industrial processes is part of a movement that is often referred to as the automation revolution. While it promises to shape the future of many industries, it is not futuristic.
Intelligent machines are already being employed in ways we never thought possible a few years ago. And now is the time to understand the impact they can have and the best route to using them to optimize labor practices.
Are robots taking over the workplace?
Presently, “robot density per employee,” which is a measure used to gauge the degree to which automation is being embraced, stands at 126 robots per 10,000 employees. While that may seem small, it is more than double the number recorded in 2015, a trend that has some concerned.
In early 2020, Massachusetts Institute of Technology issued a report titled “Work of the Future” that was developed in part to address a growing anxiety related to the automation revolution.
In its coverage of the report, MIT Technology Review explained the anxiety in this way: “There’s a growing fear among many American workers that they’re about to be replaced by technology, whether that’s a robot, a more efficient computing system, or a self-driving truck.”
While a robot revolution resulting in a large-scale displacement of human workers is a popular concern that has been explored in an endless number of science fiction movies, it misses the broader potential of an automation revolution. Robots benefit industrial processes most by enhancing the efforts of human workers, not by replacing them.
A recent report by The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania shows that organizations that increase their automation through the use of robots typically hire more workers. This results from robots enhancing productivity, which grows business and demands an increase in non-robotic jobs. Wharton found that jobs were cut more often in companies that have not embraced the automation revolution. By resisting automation, they fell behind competitors, lost business, and had to let employees go.
What are the next steps?
This new paradigm of robots playing a more integral role in the workplace will not develop in a vacuum. Politically and culturally, people will need to accept intelligent machines and adapt accordingly. The automation revolution will require a shift not only in the way we work, but also in the way we think about work.
In the 1980s, computers entered the workplace. Some resisted, seeing the new technology as a tool that would be used to supplant the systems that were in place at that time.
Today, very few workplaces could survive without computers. Rather than supplanting systems, computers became a tool to optimize systems. Rather than displacing workers, they created a new universe of jobs.
Robots and other intelligent machines offer the same potential to those who are willing to see them as a tool that can be wielded to increase efficiency and productivity. Those who resist will watch from the sidelines as the automation revolution advances.
Scott Heric, Co-Founder of Unionly, has years of experience helping organizations to raise funds online. He helped develop sales and account management for Avvo, growing from 30 to 500 people over seven years. Heric then took a chief of staff role at Snap Mobile Inc., where he oversaw development of the product, marketing, sales, and account management, leading to the company becoming a leading digital fundraising platform in higher education. His company Unionly was acquired in January of 2020. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.
Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to firstname.lastname@example.org. The views reflected in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.
Defense Department Must Continue Investing in Artificial Intelligence to Combat Cyber Threats: Google
Investing in AI will help prevent cyberattacks, in light of warnings about a possible increase in such attacks from Russia.
WASHINGTON, May 5, 2022 – A Google executive is calling for the Department of Defense to continue making investments in artificial intelligence to protect the cyberspace, in light of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and warnings about a possible increase in cyberattacks against the private sector.
The DoD needs to invest in “training, technology, and management that will facilitate more experimentation, prototyping, and execution” of these technologies, Andrew Moore, vice president and director of Google Cloud, told a Senate subcommittee on cybersecurity Tuesday.
“One of AI’s critical uses is finding anomalies in activity that would indicate a new threat vector,” Moore said.
The DoD can use AI capabilities in defense against attacks as AI monitors known threats on a massive scale, analyzes historical data and monitors active exploitation, the subcommittee heard. AI provides on-demand scanning of software and active scanning for malicious sites.
AI can also break down and unify data sources by cross-linking and joining data, allowing for constant pattern detection for unexpected defensive concerns, it heard further.
“The Department must have the ability for teams to quickly build, adapt and leverage an AI system – in hours or days – to address problems like finding a ship lost at sea or responding to an active threat event,” said Moore.
Moore claimed that Google has developed a “level of insight and visibility into the world of cyber threats that allows [them] to assess and develop cutting edge defenses to whole classes of threats, not just particular attacks.”
There have been concerns raised in the past year that the federal government has not welcomed AI technology, leading to a possible global economic divide and national security threats.
AI development needs experienced workforce
Training and educating will greatly help the DoD make necessary investments as employees gain confidence and familiarity with AI.
The DoD was further called by Eric Horvitz, technical fellow and chief scientific officer at Microsoft, to invest in training and education to strengthen the U.S. workforce in cybersecurity.
“For cybersecurity and in the context of national security, having the upper hand in AI against your adversary is critical,” Moore said.
“There is a race to see who can get machines to provide as much defense as possible,” he added. “For example, AI systems are absolutely necessary to automate aspects of cybersecurity. The US remains the leader in AI, but we must ensure we continue to do this at scale.”
Advances in AI Less About Flashy Robots and More About ‘Creeping Incrementalism’
Artificial intelligence, disguised as helpful hints on web search results, is already having an active effect on society.
WASHINGTON, February 2, 2022 — Experts in artificial intelligence said that the future of AI is less about flashy robots with facial expressions and more about subtle advancements that entice users to give away more time and information.
“We’re no longer in the emerging phase of AI,” says Chloe Autio, advisor and senior manager at the Cantellus Group, a boutique consultancy focused on strategy and governance of emerging technologies like AI, in an exchange with Broadband Breakfast Editor and Publisher Drew Clark.
Autio and fellow Broadband Breakfast Live Online speaker, Sarah Oh, senior fellow at the Technology Policy Institute, made clear that AI is no longer a far-away concept that won’t be realized for many years, instead it is already a part of our everyday lives.
“For me, it’s less of this fear that we’ll all turn into robots or that robots will turn into us,” says Autio. Instead, Autio says her concern sprouts from the growing dependency society has on AI technologies without knowing it.
These technologies vary from Alexa and Siri to apps like Instagram and Twitter. “Social media platforms have changed to optimize for engagement and participation,” said Autio.
In doing this, social media platforms are utilizing AI technologies that help them learn more about users. Autio also gave the example of advanced search engines that give users responses in complete sentences rather than just a list of resources.
“People need to be more wary of these sorts of advancements through creeping incrementalism,” warned Autio.
Oh echoes these concerns in a more generalized way: “It’s like electricity, it’s a general technology. It empowers both negative and positive uses,” she says.
While the conversation did highlight some of the exciting potential AI holds, the fears of AI’s potential, if not already active, effect on society were abundantly apparent.
Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place on Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. You can also PARTICIPATE in the current Broadband Breakfast Live Online event. REGISTER HERE.
Wednesday, January 26, 2022, 12 Noon ET — AI’s Impact on Media, Law, Finance and Government
Artificial Intelligence is continuing to transform wide realms of our society and economy, and machine-based intelligence is just getting started. In this forward-focused session of Broadband Breakfast Live Online, we’ll speak with thinkers, innovators, and policy-makers about how journalism, law, finance and government services have been or will be transformed by AI. Join us for a world of discovery, as well as caution, about policies that need to be in place to harness the power of AI.
Panelists for this Broadband Breakfast Live Online session:
- Chloe Autio, Advisor, The Cantellus Group
- Dr. Sarah Oh, Senior Fellow, Technology Policy Institute
- Other guests have been invited
- Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast
Chloe Autio is an Advisor and Senior Manager at The Cantellus Group, a boutique consultancy focused on strategy and governance of emerging technologies like AI. Chloe specializes in AI policy and applied practice, most recently as a Director of Public Policy at Intel Corp. Chloe is a founding board member of the DC chapter of Women in Security and Privacy (WISP) and holds an economics degree from UC Berkeley where she also studied technology policy.
Sarah Oh is a Senior Fellow at the Technology Policy Institute. She has presented research to the Western Economic Association and Telecommunications Policy Research Conference, witness testimony to the Senate Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, and has co-authored work published in the Northwestern Journal of Technology & Intellectual Property, Berkeley Technology Law Journal, and other peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Oh completed her Ph.D. in Economics from George Mason University, and holds a J.D. from Scalia Law School and a B.S. in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford University.
Drew Clark is the Editor and Publisher of BroadbandBreakfast.com and a nationally-respected telecommunications attorney. Drew brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, he served as head of a State Broadband Initiative, the Partnership for a Connected Illinois. He is also the President of the Rural Telecommunications Congress.
As with all Broadband Breakfast Live Online events, the FREE webcasts will take place at 12 Noon ET on Wednesday.
CES 2022: Artificial Intelligence Needs to Resonate with People for Widespread Acceptance
Even though stakeholders may want technologies that yield better results, they may be uncomfortable with artificial intelligence.
LAS VEGAS, January 6, 2022 – To get artificial intelligence into the mainstream, the industry needs to appease not just regulators, but stakeholders as well.
Pat Baird, regulatory head for software standards at electronics maker Philips, said at the Consumer Electronics Show Thursday that for AI technology to be successfully implemented in a field like medicine, everyone touched by it needs to be comfortable with it.
“A lot of people want to know more information, more information, more information before you dare use that [technology] on me one of the members of my family,” Baird said, “I totally get that, but it is interesting – some of the myths that we see in Hollywood compared to how the technology [actually functions],” adding to be successful you have to win the approval of all stakeholders, not just regulators.
“It is a fine line to take and walk,” Baird said. “I think we need to make sure that the lawmakers really understand the benefits and the risks about this – not all AI is the same. Not all applications are the same.”
Like accidents involving autonomous vehicles, rare accidents for AI can set the technology back years, Baird said. “One of the things that I worry about is when something bad happens that’s kind of reflected on the entire industry.”
Baird noted that many people come prepared with preconceived biases against AI that make them susceptible to skepticism or hesitancy that a technology is safe or will work.
But he did not go so far as to say these biases against AI are putting a “thumb on the scale” against AI, “but [that thumb] is floating near the scale right now.”
“That is one of the things that I’m worried about,” he said. “Because this technology can make a difference. I want to help my patients, damn it, and if this can only improve performance by a couple percent, that is important to that family that you just helped with that [technology].”
Joseph Murphy, vice president of marketing at AI company Sensory Inc., said, “Just like everything in life it’s a tricky balance of innovation, and then putting up the speed bumps to innovation. It’s a process that has to happen.”
On Wednesday, Sally Lange Witkowski, founder of business consulting firm Slang Consulting, said that companies should be educating consumers about the benefits of 5G for widespread adoption.
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