Every day in the news you see flashes that Artificial Intelligence and Automation will wipe off most of the jobs in the Technology domain especially in the IT service Industry. Coming from an engineering background and having worked two years with a multinational service company, I doubted this very much. With design thinking revolutionizing the way software products are being built - Is it really possible for a machine to empathize with clients and communicate with them? But like any other young professional, I began wondering - what skills should I equip myself with to stay relevant in the industry?
And then IDEX happened to me and I landed up in a different world altogether.
It was a new beginning for me! While working for a Technology for Development Organisation, I learnt an important life lesson; Technology can become man’s best friend but can never replace the human touch.
In fact excessive reliance on technology can sometimes render us handicapped.
For instance, because of some bureaucratic issue, I found myself without network or Internet access on my phone. I was tensed - how will I reach office without access to private cab companies such as Uber or Ola. Commuting in Bangalore is always a stress, not just because of traffic, but also because of the lack of public transport at regular intervals. The metro does not connect all parts of this city and bus frequency is especially skewed at office timings.
To add to this, I panicked about not being able to WhatsApp or call my friends on my way on the long journey to office. Angry, frustrated and scared, I started from home to office and decided to try my luck in travelling by a bus. Thankfully I got a bus that stops off close to my office. To my horror, when I was about to pay for my ticket, I realized I had left my wallet at home. I was about to step down and go back home when a lady named Shanti came to my rescue. She offered to pay for my ticket. I offered to send money back to her after reaching office. Instead, she told me to help someone else on her behalf. Her words and her goodness not only surprised me but also gave me an important lesson that when technology fails, humanity works.
This wonderful gesture by this lady not only took away my anger and anguish but also made me feel blessed. It reaffirmed my firm belief in humanity. It reaffirmed my faith that not everything is technologically driven.
Today, we are trying to replace humans with robots, automation and Artificial Intelligence. We often forget that we need humanity. We need human values and empathy from fellow humans for our world to become a better place to live. We need more people like Shanti. It’s said blind trust is bad so blind trust, even on technology can cripple us. A day will come when overdependence on technology will make us blind.
We should not forget that even today we prefer to visit an experienced doctor when we are ill instead of just getting treated by a machine. We don’t believe in online medication by a programmed machine. In the study done by Mckinsey, it has been stated that less than 30 percent of the activities of the nurses and doctor can be automated.
Also in education sector, technology is transforming the field as can be seen from learning vehicles available online but the essence of teaching and the quality of education still lies in deep expertise and complex interactions of students with their teachers.
Similarly, a HR in an organization can still retain a valuable employee by understanding his needs and concerns which machines can’t with limited emotional intelligence.
Recently it was reported by news channels that Facebook had to shut down its AI bots. The Bots became intelligent enough to develop their own language that cannot be understood by humans but only by AI systems and robots. Later it was reported that it’s debunked as Facebook was experimenting something. For me to even experiment in building some intelligent robots is a danger to our world. We need to build AI to augment humans and not replace them.
According to Telsa CEO Elon Musk "AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization in a way that car accidents, airplane crashes, faulty drugs or bad food were not — they were harmful to a set of individuals within society, of course, but they were not harmful to society as a whole."
I still firmly believe that while making further technological advances we must not forget that human touch.
Instead of building a new end of the world for our coming generations, we should build a sustainable world – world which is driven by values – world where humanity sees its new beginning along with its best friend, technology.