An ‘Autonomous World’ is about to emerge according to Jeremiah Owyang,  founder of Crowd Companies. Gloria Lombardi explores and finds out more.

By Gloria Lombardi (@LOMBARDI_GLORIA)

Jeremiahpic2Could you imagine having a robot as a colleague? The idea may seem rather fanciful. But, according to founder of Crowd Companies Jeremiah Owyang (pictured right), we are witnessing a rise of the Autonomous World, which he defines as: “The future state when intelligent technology systems, operating without human participation, enable new business models in a more efficient society.

The Autonomous World is driven by the digital world. “It relies on the merger of robots and The Internet of Things (IoT),” clarifies Owyang. It is already creating new ways of doing business. “It is also changing the Collaborative Economy in different ways.”

The future of work

robot3The effects of the Autonomous World on the future of work will be both good and bad, Owyang says. On the positive side, workers will rely on robots to get their work done. “The management as well as other employees will use machines and even artificial intelligence systems to fulfil their tasks.”

But, on the downside, workers themselves maybe displaced. “They may find out that they no longer have a job: the robots are doing it for them.”

In order to be part of the workforce of the future people will need to develop new skills to manage technological advancements. “They need to prepare now for the changes that will come when computers are able to complete some tasks better and cheaper than them.”

However, many people are still either unaware that the move is about to happen. “Or they are trying to resist it.” Yet, the shift is happening. And, “it will not be stopped.”

Not surprisingly, there is a lot of concern about the rights of workers. Owyang is seeing the rise of the Universal Basic Income. “It is a form of socialism where common resources and a basic income is provided to all workers.” Even if people are not currently working, they will be guaranteed a wage. “The aim is to have no one ending up starving or becoming homeless.”

The worker-machine relationship in the workplace

robotWill the Autonomous World emulate humans? No. Robots will behave differently from people. “They are going to be faster and complete transactions quickly. They will be like sub-workers or sub-serving workers.”

Obviously, autonomous machines are not social creatures like humans are. Yet, they will be able to improve communications. “For example, they will give workers essential information on emerging situations immediately at the time they occur. They will collect data, analyse it and and produce important alerts or notifications for people to access as soon as a set of circumstances change.”

And, these technologies will certainly extend the idea of the workplace. It is worth mentioning the role of self-driving cars. With the vehicle driving itself people will be able to work while commuting. “The car will start looking like an office in its own right: WiFi, large screens, and the opportunity to connect various devices to work in comfort.”

Autonomous vehicles will also function as a sort of logistics partners. “If someone needs a package to be delivered to the office, they can use those technologies to quickly send them the material. For workers, that means that they can get things on demand.” And, the supply chain itself will be faster thanks to the technology.

The impact

cc3The impact on society is and will be big. Good examples come from ride-sharing companies such as Uber, Lyft and Didi Kuaidi, which are preparing to launch their own self-driving cars. “Uber is already building the technology in its vehicles.” Meanwhile, car manufacturers such as Volvo, Ford, Mercedes and Yamaha are working on producing their own self-driving transport. And, the industry impact has continuing effects. “These firms are opening laboratories and innovation centres in Silicon Valley as they, too, strive to integrate software with their products.”

Additionally, new collaborative partnerships are developing. For example, Lyft, which is the second largest ride-sharing start-up in the United States, has partnered with General Motors: “Together they will be launching self-driving cars soon.”

The role of mobile in an Autonomous World

selfdrivingThe Autonomous World is intrinsically and entirely linked with the mobile experience. “It is summoned by mobile.” For example, people will organise their rides through the apps on their devices. The self-driving car will go to their house and take them wherever they need to go.

Mobility will also enable WiFi access: mobile devices will be on a very fast connection inside the car. “In some respect, the self-driving vehicles themselves will be like smartphones.”

And, a new form of mobile apps will emerge. “The current way of downloading and installing applications as well as logging in, is old and antiquated. It will not sustain in the long run.” In the future, people will not need to download the app: “It will be instantly available on the phone.”

And, it will provide richer experiences than today’s apps are offering. Yet, “it will take some time before we reach that point.”

Nurturing corporate culture and human talent

robot-507811_960_720Employees will always be seen as an important asset. But, the idea of talent will change in an Autonomous World. “Many companies are already outsourcing high expertise and skills from the freelancer world. They are already relying on the on-demand workers.” And, leaders must carefully take them into account. “They must prepare and nurture an internal culture that considers these individuals.”

Institutional knowledge is going to be critical too. “Companies have to ensure that the knowledge of their organisation is captured and retained.”

But, that is important anyway. “Whether or not the business has engaged with freelancers or used any machine that could potentially replace humans.”

Fascinating or frightening depending on how it is seen, the Autonomous World is shifting the future of work. “And companies must prepare for it.”

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