Office Bots

by Thomas Masuch — 21/01/2019

Column »Outside the box«

Futurologists often predict that artificial intelligence and digitization will ring the changes for many occupation profiles. They even expect some professions to disappear entirely: Instead of surgeons, robots will cut out our appendix. Instead of chefs, 3D printers or automatic cooking machines will be stirring things up in restaurant kitchens – but just who will handle the washing-up afterward remains unclear.

Back in 2013, in their study »The Future of Employment«, the Oxford professors Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne, reckoned that 47% of all jobs in the USA were at risk. Those potentially affected include bus and car drivers, parcel delivery staff, bank clerks, and accountants.

However, supermarkets show that real life doesn’t always dance to the futurologists’ tune. According to the forecasts, fleshand- blood cashiers should now be a thing of the past. But for some reason, self-service terminals haven’t yet completely replaced them – perhaps because people like to see another human face from time to time. Nevertheless, companies including Amazon have launched pilot projects in China and the USA, with cameras, sensors, face recognition, and artificial intelligence promising to deliver a totally new shopping experience.

black as printers’ ink

Some researchers also paint the future for journalists as being black as printers’ ink. After all, copy is already generated automatically: for example, for news, sports articles, and live sports tickers. Some of these pieces read quite well, while others are about as gripping as a telephone directory. And, for the moment at least, it’s doubtful whether business people or politicians are likely to agree to be interviewed by a robot.

But here, too, developments will be rapid, and we’ll keep you up to date with them in both Formnext magazine and the e-Mag. And while we may be enthusiastic about technology, we’ll still be the ones doing the typing and will draw on our (non-artificial) intelligence to come up with new stories ...