Home' HR Monthly : February 2017 Contents 14
drinks long black
coffee, expert on
creative 'hot spots'
in the office
'internet of things,'
most devices will be
WiFi enabled and
will have some sort
The rise of the bot
An increasingly hot topic in the technology world,
and in the future of our work, is that of 'bots'. It's not
about robots or shiny, silver, humanoid machines with
eyes that glow red. Bots instead are brilliant pieces of
software that will sooner, rather than later, take over many of our jobs.
"A bot is a package of artificial intelligence that crawls systems to pick
up different pieces of information and then produce an output at the
end," explains Dr Kristin Alford, futurist and director of the Science,
Creativity and Education studio at University of South Australia.
"Bots can interact with parts of the communication flow. That might
be with people or that might be with other bots. When it comes to careers
dealing with information that is fairly fixed -- the sort of work that
accountants do, looking at tax audits, at historical information. That
could all be done by a bot. Also the work that lawyers do, in terms of
looking for past case law, is the sort of thing that could be done by a bot."
In 2009, Alford says, thousands of Wall Street staff were made
redundant because of the financial carnage of the GFC. As the economy
began to pick up, many of those jobs did not come back. Already we
were witnessing the rise of programming to replace and automate middle
management and analytical jobs.
There have even been stories of bots being programmed to read
thousands of romance novels in order to develop a better understanding
of human relationships. So don't be surprised if your automated office
concierge suddenly turns on the charm.
"Some of what we're seeing is simply about automating certain
processes," Alford says. "Some is about further developing artificial
Traditional robots, hand in hand with bots, will also assist with
automation of particular processes, she says. While work that is repetitive
and analytical will be taken by bots, so too work that is repetitive and
manual will be taken by robots. We are already seeing such examples
with drone deliveries, automation of warehouses, and driverless vehicles
being used on farms and mine sites etc.
"Local councils are looking at using drones to do asset management,"
Alford says. "Instead of sending somebody out to inspect playground
equipment, they send a drone to photographically log it. It collects
evidence and compares it to images in the system. If everything is fine
then it ticks a box and you don't even need a human imprint on there."
Interestingly, Alford says, the professions that are likely to be safe
from automation are traditionally female roles such as nursing, teaching,
physiotherapy and the arts. "So it is not just a technological change we'll
be seeing in the workplace but also a social change, or a change in the
way we regard the value of certain types of roles," she says.
How we will communicate
Stephen Minnett, founder and director of workplace design firm
FutureSpace, says new innovations will help us to close the gap between
the quality of physical connections and technological connections.
Meetings and interactions with people who are not actually present will
be far more sophisticated and nuanced than previously.
"There might be eight people in an office in Sydney sitting at a table
and working. At the end of that bench they have a big, flat screen and
a camera. On that screen they can see the team in their Melbourne or
Shanghai office, as if they are sitting at the other end of the same table,"
"You become subliminally aware of the people in the other office. If
you want to speak to them, you can just glance over and see they are on
the phone, so you shouldn't bother them right now. Or you will see that
they have had a haircut and you might offer them a compliment, just as
director, prefers a
chai latte. Arrived at
work in a driverless
car which will arrive
at midday for her
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