By Larry Dignan
Posting in Environment
In the next 40 years, analytics systems will replace much of what the knowledge worker does today. Middle management, meet your machine match.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- In the next four decades, analytics systems will replace much of what the knowledge worker does today -- and systems like IBM's Watson will be your boss.
Humans-- especially the species known as middle management -- will go extinct.
That's the conclusion of Gartner analysts Nigel Rayner, speaking here at his company's annual conference. In a "maverick" presentation -- defined as one that makes a case for an outcome that isn't a sure bet -- Rayner argued that many of the things executives do today will be automated.
Rayner, who described the intersection of analytics, economics and business as "a personal journey," certainly was thought-provoking.
Here's gist of what you have to look forward to in 40 years.
We are at a tipping point in the evolution of the "Information Age," but business culture is holding back the use of IT. In the future, decision making will be automated and managed by machine-based models far better than any human could manage. Effectively, most of what the CFO, CEO and managers do today will be done better by machines. This will have profound impacts on business, society and the economy. In the short term, the bonus-maximizing behavior of CEOs and management teams will be replaced by an "enlightened capitalism" in which shareholders tell machines how they want their business to operate.
The other jarring conclusion -- at least for all the humans in the room -- was that we stink at rational decisions. In addition, compensation packages, peer pressure and other nonsense simply distort good decision-making. Machines simply do a better job. Humans can't process information overflow, short product cycles and the pressure to deliver results.
"The way we have evolved means that humans don't make rational decisions," Rayner said. "We're not hardwired to be rational. And even if we were, the current environment and the pace of business would make it hard for executives to balance short-term and long-term needs."
Humans overestimate their abilities and glorify the past and those characteristics result in poor decisions. Machines are better than humans at clinical diagnosis, targeting profitable customers, hiring employees and predicting the wine harvest. "Everywhere I look in behavioral modeling, machines outperform humans," said Rayner.
Enter your friendly neighborhood supercomputer -- which will be run-of-the-mill in 40 years.
In the world of business, profitability modeling and optimization applications are identifying previously unknown sources of profits, while statistically-based validated assessments can be more effective for hiring than human managers.
And it's already happening since predictive models are already maximizing profits throughout business. Machines do talent assessment and predictive modeling better already. Pattern-based analytics is the next arms race for technology giants. Just imagine how swell these systems will be in 40 years.
Our end state will be intelligent operations systems and models that will automate companies and the processes that run them. Machines will be the rational brains of business. Humans will do what we do best: Building new services, pondering risks and innovating. In other words, humans will be more strategic thinkers and think about potential Black Swans and tweak models accordingly.
As one of the lowly humans in the room, I couldn't help but wonder about the unemployment line in 40 years. Yes, I'll be a bit over the hill by then, but if you assume the retirement age goes to 95---the only way Social Security will be solvent -- this Gartner argument is downright scary to me. Machines are already automating humans out of the way in many industries.
The kicker is that the collective will be in charge of decision-making. Rayner noted:
Most routine management tasks will be eliminated. Instead, the focus will be on innovation in products, services and business models — activities that are much better suited to the human mind (especially the subconscious one). In the world of IT, skills in economic and social modeling will be highly valued.
Sounds great eh? The "John Connor counterpoint" is that all this leisure time and focus on higher-level tasks---since the machines will do everything---will make humans soft. For instance, airline pilots depend on machines so much that they barely know how to manually fly. In this world, we potentially won't be able to innovate, reason and run a business because we'll lose our edge. Collective intelligence and machines will trump the next Steve Jobs.
This post originally appeared on ZDNet's Between the Lines blog.
Oct 17, 2011
Computers are already making hiring decisions. Applied for a job at ASDA shelf stacking. Used to be a job just about anybody could do, irrespective of whether they liked it or hated it. Was psychologically profiled during the online application process. A short while later, got an e-mail saying something along the lines of I wasn't a suitable fit for ASDA and that I won't be allowed to apply for further vacancies for a period of 6-12 months. Just because the computer didn't like the answers I gave on the psychological profile test. So the kind of job that I used to be able to get with just a physical application form and a short interview with an actual person, I can't get now 'cos "Computer says no." So to all you "people" out there who says to the likes of me "Get a job", this is one of the (many) reasons why I'm now appear to be condemned to an "endless vacation" on the unemployment line.
Oh, I'm sure that it 'should'. BUT, the only driving force for that is MONEY. Now, if todays history is a harbinger, money is not going to be the driving force. ( I myself of course do not believe this.) We've had the nurse hubbub a little while ago over the new tracking tags made to be worn by the employees, not management, to check for efficiency by the puter. We humans failed miserably! In fact to the point of a strike if the chains weren't loosened. Much 'education' would have to be instilled into the sheeple. Although, a point..4 million apple '4s' sold in two days.
Just saw the movie "Money Ball". Looks like it has already happened in Base Ball. Movie showed the history of what is bound to come in every other venue. Logic is bound to win out.
We still need people? Why? The only 'people' that will be needed is...wait for it...the top 1%, and they will have the POWER to Program the puters in what ever way they want. Oversight? By whom? Other puters? Who in their right mind thinks that people can work in a LOGICAL environment. Or, for that matter, be beholden to a decision made by a machine! Unless you indoctrinate the ?working? population. With machines doing all the decision making don't you think the machine will FIRE the least productive? Then, the next least productive? After all people would rather play than work! (MOST?) To a machine with a work ethic(?)It will be interesting to see how the machine taking over your life decisions will affect the human, people are just in the way! Altruism is NOT shared by the machine! How can a machine feel? Oh, it can't. That's why it will work!? It will be interesting for the future of human kind to alow thinking machines rather than thinking people to make decisions. i.e. Dear Human, this is a notification that your internal health monitor is indicating that you need to defacate. Please, attend to this notification as soon as possible. If you do not, your credits will be deducted and you will be sent to re-education to understand that you are required to act in accordance with the laws of the MAC.HINE. My death will be a welcome act as I am of an older generation. I feel my parents felt the same as I angered and frustrated them wih my generation's new fangelled music and new way of thinking. A shot of JD to the future and a lament to the past. Cheers.
So when the battery runs down or the power grid hiccups, then what? Machines are great for processing known tasks. Creativity? Not so much. Thank goodness that we'll still need people.
"Everywhere I look in behavioral modeling, machines outperform humans," Just remember, humans still program the machines, so all this only works if they are programmed right. Wasn't one of the 2011 stock market drops caused by machine trading??? Yes, maybe machines will be able to program smarter machines, but they still must be built right. Is there automatic altruism code?
I believe 40 years is too far off. Most of the building blocks for letting a machine handle middle management decision making are already in place. In many industries, powerful algorithms and data analysis systems are already performing the auto pilot role. The only thing left now is for us to demonstrate that the human mind has mastered the process of programming the machines to cater for every conceivable (and perhaps inconceivable) scenario of business.
Sorry, but the top 1% will be out. They are the ones who vote themselves multimillion dollar bonuses when the company is losing money. That's bad. that takes money away from the stock holders (the legal owners).