‘If A Machine Takes Your Job, Your Job Must Have Sucked’: Adobe Think Tank

Fellow humans won’t be your only co-workers in the future, concluded a panel of speakers who discussed the future of work during an Adobe Think Tank live broadcast Thursday, in San Jose, Calif.

Already, technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and other forms of automation are freeing workers from doing some of the more monotonous jobs, allowing them to use that newfound time be more creative and handle more meaningful tasks.

“Yes, machines will steal our jobs ... and we want them to,” said Brian David Johnson, futurist in residence at Arizona State University’s Center for Science and Imagination. “If a machine takes your job, your job must have really sucked because it was turning you into a machine.”

Jeff Vijungco, VP of global talent, technology and insights at Adobe, noted that the difference between humans and machines is that humans can adapt. So, even if automation does get rid of some of the more mundane jobs, nothing can replace human intuition.

A study by Adobe Digital Insights found that the impact of automation and robots are top-of-mind among employees, but, contrary to popular belief, most people are talking about how robots are helping them do their work, rather than taking away jobs.  

But, according to Kate Kendall, founder and CEO of CloudPeeps, we’ve entered an era of “sentient tools.” Advances in technology around digital assistants, the internet of things, artificial reality, machine learning, and virtual reality are resulting in massive cultural shifts. These tools are “culturally and physically aware,” Kendall said during the broadcast. “They are social and can act and interact. They can know us as individuals.”

Getting machines to do the mundane, everyday tasks will be a gateway to bringing out people’s creativity, Adobe’s Vijungco said. “People produce too much and aren’t imagining nearly enough,” he pointed out.

Sam Liccardo, the mayor of San Jose, also participated on the panel. He made the point that machines will augment our jobs, not necessarily steal them away. Augmentation will enhance the way people create things, he said.

Another interesting point made about automation was the time employers will be able to give back to employees. Studies have shown that the Millennial generation is more concerned with doing work that actually affects people than they are with salary.

“This is a huge shift from the 1950s where if you were working for IBM, that meant you were living in upstate New York, regardless of how cold it was there in the winter,” Liccardo was. Time, he added, is of the utmost importance to younger generations entering the workforce.

Advances in transportation also will help give employees time back, said Frankie James, Ph.D., managing director at GM’s Advanced Technology, Silicon Valley office. Self-driving cars are one example, where people can use the time once spent driving to do work-related or personal tasks.

“The big trends in auto, like autonomous driving, connected vehicles, and shared vehicles, will mean new mobility experiences because you are being driven instead of driving,” James said.  

Marketing automation is going to be a big topic of discussion at Adobe Summit 2017, March 19-23. Click here to view the agenda and register. (Bonus: Enter code CMDC17 for an additional $200 discount.)

Note: Adobe is CMO.com’s parent company.

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