The future of work – is it AI?
Artificial Intelligence is the topic of the moment. How will it impact work in the future? How will it benefit me? Is it ethical? With the rapid integration of AI into many systems we use on a daily basis, there is a need for discussion and debate on these questions.
But AI is not a new thing - instead we are now experiencing an evolution of the technology. At Bosch we’ve had products in the past that used AI, such as electronic transmission control in cars which learnt an individual’s driving style - introduced in the late 90’s. Now we have moved one step further with an in-car camera that uses AI for object recognition. It will make surround sensing far more reliable, it can look at the vehicle’s surroundings and decide in a split second whether action is required - much quicker than a human eye can. This technology will appear in vehicles in the UK in the near future.
With growing digitalisation, the number of areas where AI can play a role is expanding and there are many benefits to adopting it into our lives. Medical diagnostics can identify an illness and suggest treatment options, image recognition systems can detect road signs from your car and your smart speaker can tell you a joke.
AI is still only in its infancy, with many hurdles such as market concerns over data security and unreliability of AI algorithms, yet to overcome. However there is rapid growth, AI has developed more in the past five years than in the 50 years before that so we can expect to see great developments in our lifetime.
In the UK, the government recognises the benefits that AI will bring to the economy. The AI Sector deal – an industrial strategy set out by Government outlines the importance of strong partnerships between business, academia and government in working together on skills and infrastructure to implement a long-term strategy for AI in the UK.
At Bosch, we recognise its importance to our business too. We recently invested 35 million euros in another new Bosch Centre for AI, this one in Germany’s Cyber Valley.
Across a multitude of sectors, Bosch and its global research partners are applying AI to optimize processes across manufacturing, engineering, supply chain management and intelligent services. In the UK, we are working on IoT solutions in various sectors, examples include ‘Nexo’ intelligent vending machines and Bosch Phantom - an IoT energy & asset monitor which combines AI and analytics to provide real-time insights for energy monitoring and asset performance. In this example, the artificial intelligence analyses the power signal characteristics to identify which specific appliance matches which power usage and this enables detailed specific energy consumption data to be shared.
It is a legitimate concern to worry about ‘man’ vs ‘machine’ and the impact AI may have on the workplace in the future. However, I am positive about this. Creative thinking and developing relationships cannot be replicated by a machine. Instead AI, can free us from the more repetitive elements of work that require strict accuracy. The world of work should become more interesting with more opportunities for all. By 2022, AI will result in a net increase of roughly 58 million jobs. This accounts for new jobs being created and existing ones becoming obsolete.
I am looking forward to seeing these develop over the coming years and benefiting from the improvement in our lives this can bring.