Patrick Daxenbichler - Fotolia

Don't fear the robots right now

Visions of robots taking over might still be the stuff of science fiction with the channel finding a role to play helping customers use the AI and automation tools that are around now

There has been a lot of talk about robots and the threat they potentially pose to mankind. One school of thought has them taking over the world replacing the need for humans to do many jobs.  The other side of the debate views them as vital in helping us all become more efficient.

Watching Blade Runner 2049, where the idea of replicants (robots) that have broken the rules needing to be eliminated is central, it gave one particular grim view of the not too distant future.

In a Blade Runner world robots can only take their place in the workforce as long as they don’t start becoming human. To develop emotions and start down a road to self-discovery means that it is time to be ‘retired’. As the police chief advises one of the replicants working for her, "You don't need a soul in this job".

Back in 2017 automation and AI is about reducing the time-wasting repetitive jobs that people often get caught up in.  It need not be a threat if pitched by the channel sympathetically. Research from Aspect Software and Ricoh Europe have both revealed that the use of automation and artificial intelligence can liberate workers from the mundane and give them a chance to add value.

There is an educational role for partners to help firms get ready for that shift but it is not something that needs to be seen as a threat to jobs. Supplementing a human with a system that can help them get into a position more quickly where they can add a personalised service is something that most employees agree is a positive.

For now the debate about robots and the good of mankind is being played out by the boss of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk the man behind Tesla. It seems a long way from a chatbot in a call centre making it easier for a customer to get through to someone that can deal with their problem.  For now that’s where the channel can add the value and where the arguments about AI are resting in the industry. Of course it might all be different come 2049.


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