As the world braces for the coronavirus impact, here at iGenius HQ in Milan we’re getting used to the new reality of quarantines and lockdowns.
We’ve been working from home for three weeks now, and have had some time to think, as you can imagine.
The future of work: a matter of perspective
Before the coronavirus outbreak started wrecking the global economy and straining health systems , we had plenty of discussions in our industry about the future of work, and what it meant exactly.
The starting point was questions like: to what extent will machines and artificial intelligence replace humans? Will the rise of consumer technology such as virtual assistants be mirrored in a professional context? How will human-machine interactions transform the way we work? How much re-skilling will be necessary?
Basically, we’ve been worrying about how the advance of technology would impact on the way we work. And that makes sense.
All analyst predictions point towards a revolution in the workplace.
IDC predicted 50% of structured repeatable tasks to be automated by 2024, Gartner reported how 75% of C-suite executives fear going out of business if their companies fail to scale AI. Forrester expected 2020 to be the year that companies accelerate AI adoption and become “laser-focused on AI value”.
Venture capital firm Sequoia described it as the black swan of 2020: an unpredictable event that will have an enormous long-term impact on our global economy, and well beyond.
So far, the black swan of 2020 has taught us two immediate lessons.
One — when imagining the “workplace of the future”, we have been taking human interaction for granted all along. Now we know that nothing will ever replace it.
No video conference or instant messaging service will ever amount to actually talking to a colleague — or any other human being for that matter — and we look forward to being able to all be in the same office, or kitchen, or restaurant, again.
Two — without technology we would never have been able to carry our professional duties from our quarantined homes, as we have been doing for three weeks now across all of our offices.
The future of the work may not be as bleak as some have imagined. Coincidentally, Italians use the expression “smart working” to indicate remote working.
Now more than ever, we believe in Augmented intelligence — a close collaboration between humans and machines that rests on the idea that humans will not be replaced by technology, but empowered by it.