Technologies like augmented reality and augmented intelligence will actually empower and amplify the individual and result in new opportunities for more people, according to Deloitte CTO Bill Briggs.
Briggs said that, just as the apps economy created jobs that didn’t exist before and how many of the new roles of today didn’t exist 10 years ago, the idea of robots and algorithms replacing humans is missing the point.
His point is that Facebook, for example, which 10 years ago was founded on a university campus and now connects 1.5bn worldwide, is credited with creating 600,000 new jobs worldwide through its wider ecosystem.
Apple estimated that the app revolution has added nearly 500,000 iOS jobs to the economy in Europe since the introduction of the App Store in 2008.
‘The idea of this supercomputer in our hands that drives engagement and video conferencing just eliminating global boundaries for interaction, collaboration, thumbprints for payments … we’re doing okay’
– BILL BRIGGS, DELOITTE
As CTO of consulting giant Deloitte Briggs is responsible for defining the digital vision for Deloitte and is a highly regarded and experienced technology strategist.
“The most exciting piece is that every company today is a technology company at its core. We are seeing this amazing amount of disruption around digital and cloud and analytics and then seeing how do you actually get away from the distraction of shiny objects and interesting little side bets into this true opportunity for how do we reimagine a business full-stop.”
Deloitte CTO on the digital business revolution
Briggs says that everything is in a flux right now, from customer experience to employee empowerment, how work gets done, the nature of products and services, business models and the very rules and foundations of industries.
“It’s all up for grabs and it is being written truly as we speak. How do we imagine tomorrow because of all of these forces coming together? There’s never been a more fun time to be part of technology.”
I ask Briggs, if everybody is going to be effectively a knowledge worker, what does that mean for the future of employment.
“There’s a lot of debate about the ethics and morality of advanced technology, especially artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics and that’s good, we need to have that debate: the social impact dimension of exponentials and technology advancement.
“The flipside is what you say, it’s creating new jobs, we are truly reimagining what work is, the nature of employment, the nature of work. And there’s never been more opportunity around this. The competitive landscape has changed, there are no barriers to entry and so the start-up community [is booming and it’s] so exciting to see all the great ideas that are popping up, and for big companies [the question is], how do we harness that in the best possible way? How do we put it to use to actually drive impact at a large scale?”
STEAM not STEM
The key to the future will be educating more people in science, technology, engineering and maths. But Briggs also adds art into the creation.
“Science, technology, engineering and maths – we need that – but we also need the A for art, creative, design, user experience and then cultural anthropology, behavioral psychology … skillsets we didn’t have before.
“And there’s no experts in fields anymore. No one has 20 years of magic experience. These new technologies are being experienced and invented today and what a great opportunity!”
So I ask him about the future of jobs and whether or not robots or software algorithms will replace humans.
“I’m bullish. If you went back 150 years ago and said that by 2015 a half of a percentage of the entire population will be based on agriculture and feeding the world, we said that would be laughable, that it wouldn’t be imaginable. But we are in that space now.
“I am bullish about the future – I think it is augmented reality and augmented intelligence, how do we empower and amplify the individual? And we are creating new jobs to do just that versus the nefarious side of what that could play out to be.”
I put it to Briggs that the future never turns out quite how we imagine it. We’re not all flying around in rocket ships like Buck Rogers.
“We’re doing okay,” he argues. “I have a 10-year-old and a seven-year-old daughter and I showed them Back to the Future I and II to celebrate the timing and it is amazing the things we focus on: the flying cars, the hoverboards and the fusion reactor using compost as an energy source, those didn’t happen but a lot of other stuff did.
“The idea of this supercomputer in our hands that drives engagement and video conferencing just eliminating global boundaries for interaction, collaboration, thumbprints for payments … we’re doing okay.
“Certainly we can do more, I’m waiting for the jet pack, I’m waiting for the hoverboard, but it is astounding. The next car I’ll buy will be self-driving, I’m sure; a colleague of mine has been doing the Tesla autopilot for a few months now.
“The challenge becomes: we can’t be anchored in today. A lot of the big companies I deal with are so incremental in thought and so when these fantastic new technologies come about, like machine learning and robotics and augmented virtual reality, we always think about the things we’ve always done and how we do them a little bit differently, versus how do we challenge invention and do fundamentally different things because of it.
“When that starts happening, that’s when those breakthrough moments come.”