Bits and Bytes from Futurist Shara Evans

by Shara Evans

It’s hard to believe how fast time flies, along with the increasing speed of technology development. We’re less than one month away from being in the 2020s! It seems like only yesterday when we were all debating the Y2K Bug with predictions of serious computer flaws scaring everyone. At the time, many pundits were even predicting the end of the world, which of course didn’t eventuate.

Sometimes, I think it’s the same with other technological developments – many people are scared that robots will take over the world, and that we humans will lose our jobs, our careers and our lifestyles. It’s a scenario that I don’t believe will eventuate –  our jobs and careers will change, but it’s not the end of the world, and in many ways our lifestyles will benefit. We just need to be prepared. That’s not to say that people in some occupations will not face significant challenges. We need to have a social support system that is able to assist with reskilling and retraining people for the many new job categories that advances in technology and biotech will bring about.

And, corporations have a large role to play in this as well. We simply cannot rely on government programs to envision the future for us. We need to be proactive, to shape the world that we live in, and most importantly take care of all of our citizens – especially those who have led long productive work lives, as well as those who are physically or mentally unable to work.

If companies view automation as a way to reduce labour costs, this is a wrong approach. I see automation as a way to gain more value from our human talent by delegating boring, repetitive and dangerous work to AIs and robots that are overseen by humans. There are many ethical issues affiliated with using autonomous systems, and without the “human touch” we could fall prey to unintended consequences – not to mention mass unemployment. The combination of humans, ‘bots (AI software) and robots will also see the rise of a new type of HR department: one that coordinates when and where to best use each of these resources, and also leads the charge towards reskilling staff for new job roles.

In related news, autonomous electric vehicles took a step backward this month, with Honda’s CEO stating he doesn’t believe electric cars will be mainstream in the near future. Apart from the technology, there are many logistical and infrastructure needs to be looked after – on our streets, as well as with the uptake of autonomous, electric, hybrid electric and hydrogen-powered fuel cell technology in cars. Although much of the technology is here, we need to consider a wide range of scenarios, including jaywalkers and complete (Level 5) autonomy, where no human interaction is required in any eventuality. In other words, autonomous vehicles must co-exist with humans!

2019 has been a huge year for technological developments – there’s no denying that. But we also need to be prepared and agile in how we look at the future. 

2019 has also been huge for me! Trips all around the world including the US, Middle East, Fiji and of course around Australia, New Zealand and Asia – speaking on what the future will be like and how it will realistically impact our lives. As one of the leading women Tech Futurists, I see part of my role as myth-busting the scaremongering, so that we are prepared for what is in front of us and ready to use it to our business advantage! You can keep yourself in front of the pack, by keeping abreast of my recent research here.

I regularly upload new keynote speech videos, client reviews, podcasts, and TV appearances. You can see me on stage walking the talk by clicking here.