Re-thinking disruptive technologies  
 
, Posted on 13-Feb-2018


 Re-thinking disruptive technologies  

The 4th Industrial Revolution is characterized by interface between human and machine and a shift towards automation. However, this digital transformation comes with potential risks in terms of disruptions in the market place and social fabric. It is expected that the coming 30 years will witness more changes than what humanity had experienced in the past 3000 years. Moreover, experts predict that about 47% of the current jobs will disappear due to automation and artificial intelligence (AI). Lawyers, doctors, architects, accountants, and analysts have to be prepared for deep changes in the nature and scope of their jobs due to automation. 

The wealth of nations will be founded on data mining and data analytics since the future oil will be data and informatics. This is evident in the fact that currently the global investment in AI exceeds what is invested in oil. More importantly, by 2030, it is expected that AI will contribute to global GDP by more than 15 trillion dollar, which is equivalent to 10 times than the global sales in the oil assets. On the other hand, customization and user-driven data are harnessed by global firms to generate new insights for marketing innovative products. The interface between human and machine will enhance productivity and competitiveness but may induce disruptions in the job market. 

Automation passed through different phases which intended to transfer dull and dangerous tasks to machines. Later, automation enabled machines to make intelligent decisions using AI in airline, medical and financial sectors. However, we need to re-think beyond automation by adopting a new approach to disruptive technologies that is based on augmentation of human talent. 

Augmentation can be achieved by a number of ways including deepening in specializations and expertise that require specialized knowledge, empathy, foresight, imagination and strategic thinking. For example, R&D, engineering design, and medical firms need to promote higher-order strategic thinking when it comes to bio-informatics and pattern recognition. In other words, where math and algorithm stop, human imagination starts to complement routine machine work. This deepening of new knowledge will be valued and will open new jobs in the future. 

Hence, to be relevant and to possess a competitive advantage, firms and universities should invest in learning about emerging technologies like big data, block chain, cyber security, deep leaning, foresight, and AI.  The 21st century firms and higher education institutions need to prepare professionals to be T-shaped; i.e., to master deep knowledge in a certain area. Another way to augmentation is to enhance interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences and to promote Science, Technology, Math, Science, and Management  (STEMM) education. Other educational experts call for attention to Arts and promote a new acronym; i.e., STEAM. In hindsight, the course in calligraphy that Steve Jobs studied proved to have its value in the design of I-phone. The future jobs will rely on human augmentation by complementing machines and unlocking human potential in strategic thinking and imagination. 

Prof. Odeh Al-Jayyousi


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