AI is Another Revolutionary Change for Societal Adjustment

Google Cloud director Peter Scocimara provided an intriguing, thought-provoking presentation on “The Fourth Industrial Revolution – Preparing for an AI World” at the April NEO STC monthly meeting. Scocimara intertwined cultural and societal ramifications with the sweeping changes that smart machines bring forth today.

“60% of kids born today will do jobs that do not exist today,” said Scociamara, who is a self-professed history buff that has researched this topic. “There are two ways to perceive Artificial Intelligence: ‘Ironman’, where we still are human at the core or ‘Terminator’, machines take over. I favor the Ironman comparison.”

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have been described as the 4th Industrial Revolution. Reviewing the three prior revolutions, Scocimara, a.k.a. Scotch, discussed the changes on how we work and interact with machines for a world where AI is ubiquitous.

Scotch emphasized the rate of AI disruption (the time in which society accepts change) has exponentially accelerated with other industrial revolutions. He stressed that whereas electricity took 50 years for adoption, smartphones took only five years with considerably more data at our fingertips.

 Interestingly, privacy, mistrust of institutions, and income inequality have been an ugly triumvirate of each industrial revolution. As Thomas Edsall opined, “Industrial revolutions are political wrecking balls.” Edsall is a political op-ed writer for the New York Times.

Here are summations of each Industrial Revolution as noted by Scotch, who, as you peruse each time frame, echoed that “History does not repeat but it does Rhyme.”

  • Ist Industrial Revolution (1760-1850): Rural to Urban expanse; building one barrel at a time to batch production; small community interaction to large, concentrated cities.
  • 2nd Industrial Revolution (1860-1914): Emergence of electricity and combustion engine; batch production to mass production (Henry Ford’s Model T). Verticalization of culture and workforce from raw materials>labor>distribution>retail.
  • 3rd Industrial Revolution (1970-present): Titled the Digital Revolution or the Information Age, first computer developed in 1950 but didn’t come into focus until 1970. Today’s smartphone has computer capabilities that cost hundreds of dollars in 1960s. Uber and Amazon are examples of disruption in taxis and retail.

Despite the rapid advances in modern-day technology, Scotch noted that the impact on business has been slower. He theorizes that the integration of technology for multiple business sectors has created the need for retraining of managers as well as customers, thus slower inception.

To overcome the “political rancor” that accompanies societal change, Scotch cited five goals:

  1. Learn to learn new skills
  2. Leverage online learning
  3. Develop your creativity
  4. Integrate AI and machine learning into your work
  5. Become an informed citizen

For more information, Scotch provided two resources:

  • The Fourth Industrial Revolution by Klaus Schwab
  • The Second Machine Age by Erik Brynjolfsson

By Bob Young