We live in a world where technology is evolving and advancing faster than we are as humans. Exciting? Definitely. Scary? I think so. We know we’re in for a future of rapid growth, but how can we measure exactly the kind of digital world we’ll experience in 20 years? We can’t. We can only predict. And predictions show that the development of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) will be the most interruptive technological movement since the Industrial Revolution.


Firstly, let’s delve into the recent advancement of technology:


So you may think that robotics and AI will only affect the largest, most international industries. You’re wrong. Every single commercial sector will indeed experience changes in the near future thanks to advancing technology. In fact, it’s even been predicted that ‘cow-milking robots’ will be introduced on a farm in the U.S., a system which allows cows to be milked on their own. So yes, even the most traditional and hands-on farming methods will be affected.


At the South Summit, we observed that many companies use digital technology to measure your brain’s responses to advertising campaigns, otherwise known as Neuromarketing. From this data, they can gauge how to appeal to your senses so that ultimately, you buy their products or services.


You know when you walk past a bakery and you’re immediately taken in by all the beautifully designed cakes placed right before your eyes? And let’s not forget the smell of freshly prepared bread that hits you from a mile away. A mere coincidence? I think not.


To keep up with the advancing digital trend, humans are creating truly unheard-of technology, such as the uniquely innovative Mico headphones. Their built-in sensor, based on Neuromarketing, can detect brain waves and play music that best suits your current mood. So basically, technology is more aware of your subconscious than you are. Scary.


Even more mind-blowing is the lengths some people take to feel at one with the digital movement.


So we’ve all watched movies with Cyborgs, a “fictional” or “hypothetical” person whose physical abilities are extended beyond normal human limitations by mechanical elements built into the body. And of course, we’ve dreamt of having their extraordinary powers. We know, completely unrealistic right? Well, what if we told you they now exist in real life? Moon Ribas, a memorable speaker at the South Summit, explained how she implemented technology in her own body. Yes, that’s right. She has an online seismic sensor in her feet that allows her to feel earthquakes and their magnitude through vibrations. This just goes to show the power of technology these days.


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And let’s not forget the advancement of technology in the future


Medicine of the future will be completely preventive, NOT curative. How?! Well, technology will soon be able to predict exactly what we will become ill, or even die, from. Whilst this may be something we’d rather not know, at least if we’re aware of it, we can stop it from happening. So humans will be somewhat immortal – a superpowerwe never thought to be truly possible.


But if technology can do everything, what professional role will be left for us?


There’s a growing concern that robotics will replace human intelligence and as a result, we’ll lose our jobs. It’s a fact we can’t deny. Commonly referred to as ‘technological unemployment’, technology is thought to be removing more jobs than it creates. Indeed, whilst humans are still needed to create the software and initiate the process that drives robots, this will soon be a task of the past. AI systems will no doubt be able to operate by themselves. As a result of these developing robotics, the World Economic Forum has estimated that as many as 5 million jobs will be lost across 15 developed nations by 2020.


The World Economic Forum predicts what will impact our industries by 2018-2020, including robotics, AI and machine learning:


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So basically, we’re all going to be out of a job, right?


Not exactly. Robotics could benefit us in more ways than you think. From a progressivist point of view, the advancement of technology will have a positive impact on our society. As technology advances and AI plays an increasingly large role in our lives, society will innovate simultaneously at a continuous pace. The same goes for our potential as humans. We will learn how to handle and manipulate digital technology, using it to its full potential. There will be a huge demand for individuals trained in statistics, computer programming, design and engineering. So actually, robotics will open up the opportunity for many jobs in the future, 2 million to be more precise.


Companies with profound knowledge and awareness of the potential of robotics and AI will no doubt reap the benefits in the future. Fully taking advantage of cutting-edge digital technology will help companies to increase production, provide better quality and more efficient services to their clients, ultimately boosting their chances of success in this ruthlessly competitive business world.


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So what skills should professionals develop to maintain an impact in this cyber-driven world?


We cannot ignore or slow down the advancement of technology. And when you can’t beat something, join it. As individuals fully immersed in a digital world, we need to accept that our professional roles will inevitably change in the future. Therefore we must adapt ourselves accordingly. But how exactly? By developing the perceptive and cognitive skills that neither machines nor software can emulate, such as logic, creativity and common sense. Also, as great as technology may be, it will never be able to socialize quite like we do. Sound communication skills will certainly never go amiss in the workplace.


And let’s not forget problem-solving skills – absolutely vital to be able to identify and solve technology problems that will undoubtedly arise. We will need to develop, at the very least basic but ideally advanced, ICT skills to efficiently manage digital technology. As it stands, over 40% of workers using software everyday lack the basic skills required to use it effectively. This needs to change ASAP.


We cannot sugarcoat the situation – those who refuse to develop the necessary digital skills may lose their jobs in the future. Don’t let this be you. Start your technology training today and ensure your digital awareness.


Digital competence landscape for the 21st century:


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All in all, we’ve established that the technological fantasies we saw just a few decades ago in movies, such as Star Wars, have already started to exist in reality. And the margin between what we see in fictional movies vs reality is becoming smaller and smaller. So prepare yourself to encounter the new technology you’ve already seen in your favourite Sci-Fi movies. And don’t forget: a professional who doesn’t move forward always takes a step back. Be ready.