Canada’s rankings in innovation has lagged that of other peer nations for decades despite government efforts to address this issue. Considering its success in developing research programs at its universities and pioneering many of the emerging technologies currently transforming the world, its mediocre rankings overall in technology development is disappointing. Things appear to be turning around, however. New initiatives by government are encouraging not just R&D, but also the other steps needed to turn innovative ideas into innovative products. Most importantly, increased collaboration in technology fields are starting to move Canada forward in global leadership. We still have a long way to go, but we are at least now heading in the right direction.
If you’ve read the many predictions about the future of AI, you’ve likely found them to be wildly different. They range from AI spelling doom for humanity, to AI ushering in Golden Age of peace, harmony and culture, to AI producing barely a blip on society’s path toward ever-greater technological achievement. Those three views – dystopian, utopian and organic – present issues we need to consider as we move deeper toward an AI-integrated future. Yet they also contain exaggerations and false assumptions that we need to separate from reality.
AI will encroach further into tasks previously done by humans. That is certain. It will do so not only in mundane, repetitive work, but also in highly specialized knowledge skills. The key to thriving in an AI-enabled environment is for leaders to grow in the human qualities AI can only mimic and not master. Motivating, mentoring, creativity, empathy and making genuine human connections with others – no matter their background – will be sorely needed to complement the computational and efficiency advancements AI will bring.
Technologies that could change the world have been a popular topic for the past half century. True, the predictions that everyone would drive flying cars have not materialized, but what has materialized would astound those who offered such predictions 50 years ago. And where emerging technologies are headed is even more stunning. Seven technologies, in my opinion, are poised for explosive growth in 2018. And what they can accomplish this year and beyond is not even the most significant disruption that I see them causing.
AI's effect on the workplace will not be limited merely to repetitive, production line-type jobs. Increasingly, it also enters the realm of highly trained knowledge workers. It will also affect those who manage workers currently employed in such jobs. AI likely will reshape jobs all the way up to the C-level offices. That doesn't mean, though, that managers and executives will no longer be needed. They simply need to prepare themselves for shifts in their work responsibilities.
Where AI, robots, IoT and the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution are taking us, and how we should prepare for it are some of the hottest topics being discussed today. Perhaps the most striking thing about these discussions is how different people’s conclusions are.