Categorized | Technology

Technology can’t replace the human touch

Posted on 19 January 2017 by admin

Everywhere you turn these days, there’s talk of automation replacing people. Technology is surely advancing at a rapid rate, and in today’s click-driven media environment, sensationalism sells, but just because tech can replace a human worker doesn’t m e a n we’re always going to want that. In some instances, even when tech can do an adequate job, we still want to deal with a person.

While a machine can perform a given task, often more efficiently than we can, what it lacks is the artistry in the activity, that uniquely human ability to cater to the needs of the individual. The protocol may suggest one approach, but a person who is good at their job understands when to adjust and the subtleties that are required.

The Obama administration’s recent report on the possible economic impact of artificial intelligence and automation looked at the issue at least partly through a policy prism. “Whether AI leads to unemployment and increases in inequality over the long run depends not only on the technology itself but also on the institutions and policies that are in place” the report stated. It went on to peg the percentage of jobs affected by automation over the next 10-20 years somewhere between 9 and 47 percent, a broad range that suggests the true impact won’t be known for some time.

Many people involved in the startup ecosystem believe that we will always push tech to its fullest extent simply because we can, but not everyone agrees that’s a desirable approach. The New York Times reported on a McKinsey study last week, that found that, while automation is growing, it may not be at the pace we have been led to believe. “How automation affects employment will not be decided simply by what is technically feasible, which is what technologists tend to focus on,” McKinsey’s James Manyika told the Times.

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