THE ROBOT REVOLUTION: THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THE BRAVETHE UNCERTAIN FUTURE OF WORKRobotics, nanotechnology, Artificial Intelligence (AI), automation, 3D printing, augmented reality and other technologies usher us into an unprecedented digital revolution that will cause a radical change in the way companies, communities and even countries work- it will disrupt our lives. As these different revolutionary technologies converge, like the sun’s rays convergence that burns down anything on its path, Robots and its Allies will usurp our jobs creating an economic hell for humans if we do not augment ourselves and stay relevant.From Jeremy Rifkin in the End of Work to Martin Ford in the Rise of the Robots, economists have been predicting that automation will make human jobs obsolete in the not-too-distant future. (1) Also, a research by two Oxford University lecturers, C. B. Frey and M. A. Osborne estimate that 47% of US jobs are at risk due to “computerization” in the next two decades. (2)Physicist Stephen Hawking has worried that AI “could be the worst thing ever for humanity.” (3) Moshe Vardi, a professor of computational engineering asserts: ‘In 30 years, computers will be able to perform almost any job that humans can. Vardi foresees unemployment as surpassing 50 percent by 2045.’ (4) Historian Yuval Noah Harari also paints a grim picture: just as mass industrialization created the working class, the AI revolution will create a new ‘unworking’ class.(5)In the light of these gloomy predictions, we are faced with the paradox of increased efficiency, better productivity and increased profit margins for companies and corporations that embrace these new technologies leading to a rapid reduction and elimination of jobs, and possible social unrest.The certainty of this uncertainty hits us so hard with two uncomfortable truths: First, we need to fundamentally rethink our understanding of the concept of work. Second, we need to define with diamond clarity our human essence.THE WAY FORWARDFINDING OURSELVES IN THE NEW DIGITAL WONDERLANDFrom cashless economies to driverless cars, from tutorless classrooms to doctorless operating rooms, yesterday’s science fiction has become today’s reality. It’s even possible, using 3D imaging and stem cell extraction, to grow human bone from a patient’s own cells. 3D printing is creating a circular economy – rather than the linear model of making things then throwing them away – by altering how we use and recycle raw materials. (6) Even though most workers view these revolutionary developments as dystopian catalysts, yet we still welcome the new ‘technologized’ future with open arms. But more importantly, do we welcome the future with open minds? How prepared are we for an AI-driven world? The answer is pretty obvious: not much.Research has it that 65% of children are learning things they wouldn’t need in .. years. Most of us are lost in the new digital wonderland. We try to find our way through the mesmerising theme parks of robotics, the rollercoasters of AI and the theatres of augmented reality while we constantly fantasize about the ‘beautiful’ future that lies ahead of us. We are wrong: our jobs are at risk, and even our existence is being threatened. Most of us cannot see beyond today’s comfort and knowledge as a result many will be swept away by the inevitable digital tsunami. We easily forget that ‘it is the very nature of knowledge that it changes fast and that today’s certainties will be tomorrow’s absurdities.’ (7)To chart our path in the new digital wonderland, we need a paradigm shift in thinking and attitude that will maintain a holistic approach to these new technologies: we must not just accept them but leverage on them. We need to embrace this new paradigm because the digital age will be unbearable to those who refuse to adjust the sails to the winds of change. If we do not augment ourselves with advanced technology, then, the future does not belong to us, it belongs to the robots. THE WAY FORWARDThe meteoric rise of digital technology buttresses the fact that the robots are taking over and these advanced technologies will not just change the future, they will invent it. And while these technologies are revolutionary, human nature remains evolutionary. We are already pushed to the wall. At every turn, we are faced with two choices: to cave in or fight back, to repress them or embrace them, to remain stagnant or reinvent ourselves to overcome the challenges that augmentation brings – I hope we follow the path of the brave.As a young, technologically-enthusiastic medical doctor, I know robotics is changing the face of medicine. The IBM’s Watson, a super-intelligent computer diagnosed a patient of Leukemia within 10 minutes. (8) In the last 12 months, researchers have revealed computer systems that can diagnose diabetic eye disease (9),skin cancer, (10) and arrhythmias (11) at least as well as human doctors.(12) Research has it that in the Hungarian county of Kaposvár, the average time from the discovery of a cancerous disease until the actual medical consultation about the treatment plan was reduced drastically from 54 days to 21 days with the help of a special software and by optimizing patient management practices since November 2015. If a simpler process management tool could could do this, AI will radically the waiting wouldn’t just reduce but nosedive from weeks to hours or even minutes revolutionalising patient management in the process.AI will not only ensure efficient healthcare delivery by reducing patient waiting time, helping to diagnose diseases, ensuring urgent cases get to the doctor, it can also augment the doctor if used to keep up-to-date, to collaborate more and to assist us in research work. I support Professor Bertalan Mesko’s sentiments: ‘Instead of replacing doctors, AI will augment them and make them better at their jobs. Without the day-to-day treadmill of administrative and repetitive tasks, the medical community could again turn to its most important task with full attention: healing.’ (14) This reassurance should not give room for complacency. Health professionals and other workers must upgrade their abilities or their salaries will be downgraded or non-existent in the not-too-distant future. In the age of the Machines, Charles Darwin’s law of natural selection will be the order of the day.I have decided to follow my passion: I aspire to become a Public Health Consultant with core specialty in Health Policy and Management. To conceptualise and implement people-oriented, planet-friendly and population-controlling Health Policies taking into consideration the past and current cultural practises, religious beliefs, behaviours, political, historic, geographic and socioeconomic status of people is a job only ‘augmented’ humans can excel in. While robots are diagnosing diseases and consulting clients on a one-on-one basis, I will be healing a population by ensuring adequate preventive measures. And this work is not boring or dull; it is creative and meaningful. Rather than just survive, I will thrive on the wings of change.This entails that I will be involved in the initiation, formulation, development, negotiation, communication, implementation and evaluation of health policy, all these combined with clinical and research work. Making the robot my research assistant and friend is not just a wise, but a necessary action to excel in my chosen career.In the global knowledge economy, reconciling billions of data in the digitally globalised world will be a daunting task without the use of technology. I will augment myself by using the latest technolologies like the chatbots to filter the most important research papers so that I do not drown in the ocean of information available online, I will employ the use of robots to help with data collection, collation and analysis of my various projects, I will harness Artificial Intelligence for cutting-edge and societal impactful research, collaborate with cobots for efficient healthcare delivery and explore the community with self-driving cars!Digital literacy which includes filtering, retrieving, processing and acting on information will be a vital skill that I will acquire with the use of the latest technologies. I will ensure I leverage on the power of technology to effectively multitask and also through online learning. New skills and lost passions can be awakened through online learning. Jobs that we never thought of will spring up in the future, and only those who augment themselves with online learning can take them. Relevant, updated knowledge will be the visa for work in the nearest future. My human touch to heal a community will be indispensable; and with the influence of technology, the impact will be unimaginably great.As we rethink work, relevance in the era of automation will mean augmentation on four key areas:1. Creativity’The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.’ – Winston ChurchillAs we scramble for the way forward for the uncertain future of work in the age of Google, Tesla, Microsoft et al we must take a deep reflection into our past and maybe it could help us reclaim our future.Hundreds of centuries have passed and despite the vicissitudes of life, humans have done what we know how to do best- innovate to survive. Our ability to innovate helped us light fires and forge weapons in the stone age, it helped us create a new ‘working class’ during the industrial age when machines displaced humans from farms, this same innovative spirit has spurred the wheels of invention of the robots that now seem to threaten our livelihood. We have a duty to create jobs if we can’t find them just like our forefathers did. In order to drink from the well of tech civilization, our creative spirits have to be unshackled from the reins of myopic, conventional thinking and unleashed to create value and change the world. People who can build bridges and create order from creative chaos will be indispensable in filling up the creativity gap in companies that are optimized for efficiency created by AI and automation, rather than innovation and discovery.2. AdaptabilityThe drivers of the new economy won’t be the most knowledgeable worker, but the most adaptable. People who can introduce, learn and master new idea, concept and technologies quickly will be indispensable. The winners of the increasingly complex technology-driven economy will be able to navigate complexities, and more importantly know how to simplify and provide solutions that matter. Adaptable people will collaborate and dance with robots. Eric Brynjolfsson was right when he said ‘the future will not so much be a race against the machines as a race with it.’3. Curiosity’knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly or it vanishes.’- Peter F. DruckerWhile machines are calculative by nature, human beings are curious by nature. To thrive in the new AI-driven world will not depend on our ability to answer questions but on our ability to ask them. You must start digging for unique ideas, and keep asking yourself thought-provoking questions like: ‘What do I have to unlearn, learn or relearn?’ ‘How will I evolve and harness AI?’ Acquisition of relevant information and the application of this knowledge will be crucial for thriving in the digital age. In a world of Artificial Intelligence Machines, Curiosity Quotient will trump the Intelligence Quotient.4. Complex SkillsWe must remind ourselves that AI and robotic systems are not here to replace human intelligence or existence, but to augment us and awaken us from our drab existence to upgrade our skills or join the ‘useless’ class. Not everything will adhere to watertight algorithms. Historian Yuval in his book Homo Deus observed that we have driverless cars because driving is a specialised skill. It will be difficult to have a robot Hunter gatherer because the job entails a diverse sets of skills(14). Diverse skillsets such as interdisciplinarity, leadership, empathy, leadership, networking, problem-solving and social skills that will enhance your ‘human touch’ and keep you ahead of robots and stay in the game of life. I believe we won’t have a ‘jobless’ future, but a technologized one that will require unique and complex skills.SHOULD WE FIGHT OR DANCE WITH ROBOTS?As the robotics age draws closer, the world will become sick and tired of ‘human-robots’: rigid people that are programmed and told what to do by the old, conventional world system. The automated, repetitive, dull work that we call jobs- the jobs that make us dread Mondays; that’s not what humans were made for, those jobs are meant for robots. Robots will usurp our conventional and boring jobs so that we, humans can do the unconventional; to remain curious, to embrace creativity, to learn complex skills, and ultimately elevate our communities.Our generation must embrace AI and not fight it. Robots, Collaborative robots (Cobots), and Chatbots are already here, and they have come to stay. The government is saddled with the responsibility of developing the creative entrepreneurship sectors. People must start upgrading their skills; start retraining in jobs where creativity, charm and compassion are needed which robots can’t easily take over; and people must harnessing the power of AI to become more organised and knowledgeable. Like John Legend said, ‘We are the generation, we can’t afford to wait. The future started yesterday, we are already late.’Two path lies ahead of everyone, to augment themselves and remain relevant, or to choose the path of complacency and fall behind. If you choose the latter you will join the ranks of the ‘useless’ ones like Historian Yuval suggested, if you choose the former you will join the brave, ‘unique’ ones.