The Automated World: Human + Machine Symbiosis by IFTF

Since humans first began creating machines, we have shaped them and they us.

We created clocks to help us orchestrate and coordinate tasks and, in turn, clocks began to govern our lives. We created cars and then cars turned us into motorists, auto mechanics, and commuters. Over the centuries, we have populated our world with machines that help us do things we can’t or don’t want to do ourselves. From steam-powered mills to telephone switchboards to jet engines, our technologies have created new capabilities and conveniences and allowed us to automate and optimize many aspects of human activity.

Over the past several decades, our world has become so saturated with machines that they have faded into the background. We hardly notice them. And we are reaching a new threshold—our machines are getting networked, connected, and in the process gaining capabilities once reserved for computers, enabling new forms of human+machine symbiosis.

As cloud computing and intelligence becomes pervasive and available on-demand, machines will gain the ability to capture and make sense of data, effectively enabling them to see, hear, and quantify sensory information. They will be able to simulate outcomes to optimize planning, scheduling, and strategic decision-making. Products that were once considered finished upon shipping will be constantly upgraded and enhanced with software. And as the billions of machines that surround us become increasingly autonomous, we will be challenged to embed and encode our most complex ethical principles into the things that surround us. The ubiquity, connectivity, and intelligence of these machines will enable automation at an unprecedented scale.

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