Michael Schrage is a research fellow at the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy( IDE) and the MIT Sloan School of Management, and author of The Innovators Hypothesis: How Cheap Experimentations Are Worth More Than Good Ideas.
Scheduling a meeting with a colleague? Siri can do that. Booking a business trip from New York to San Francisco? Googles mobile app delivers. Striving traffic updates for your morning commute? Alexa and Cortana are acoustically at your service.
Digital helpers and bots undeniably enhance our project lives in myriad ways. Theyre terrific; your wish is their command. And they literally acquire more skills every day. But are better bots and smarter software maids genuinely the best way to drive peoples personal productivity?
My research suggests the answer is no. Instead of simply surrounding knowledge employees with ever-better digital aides and bots, organizations and their workers will get greater returns investing in selves improvement. That is, rendering digital tools, techniques and technological sciences that empower employees to craft high-performance versions of themselves selves the hell is smarter, bolder, more creative, more persuasive and/ or more empathic than ones typical or average self.
Call it selvesware. Similar to recommendation locomotives for books to read or movies to watch, selvesware delivers actionable, data-driven insights and advice on what to say, when to speak up and with whom to run, and recommends options to make, transmit and collaborate. It invites employees to digitally amplify their best dimensions, while surveillance and minimizing their workplace weakness. In this future, the AI revolution is less about artificial intelligence and more about augmenting introspection.
Consider the Type a, get-it-done-now! executive whose 360 -degree performance reviews demonstrate a counterproductively brusque and alienating communication style. To mitigate this flaw, his selvesware recommends a most sensitive persona. His missives and messages are previewed with software like IBM Watsons Tone Analyzer, which suggests tonal and textual revises that softened his prose and inject a dosage of compassion.He determines how his empathic self can better connect with his colleagues. The make: a more empathetic administrator who no longer demotivates his team.
Similarly, the technically competent but aesthetically limited user-interface designer needs a digital ego that safely challenges his creative frontiers. He runs his designings through a visual recommendation locomotive that proposes bolder, more energetic styles based on his sketches and use cases.The outcome: more creative prototypes and more involved clients.
What about the global project administrator hoping to foster greater cooperation and camaraderie within her team? Her bespoke selvesware engine performs social-network analytics, prioritizes project milestones and sends post-meeting communiqus in ways that utterly transform her normal or typical managerial style. The ensue: a more productive and cohesive squad that hits all its deadlines.
In this future, the AI revolution is less about artificial intelligence and more about augmenting introspection .
Widespread adoption of wearable devices and sensors also promises to boost workplace an improved awareness and productivity. Just as they do today for physical fitness, engineerings tracking our stairs and heart rates already capture actionable conclusions concerning our individual energy levels and feelings. Jawbone, Fitbit and other mobile apps is very easy to play important roles assessing mental acuity and attention. The global workday is near when wristband monitors and personal dashboards will physiologically sense when people are not in the mood to take advice or concentrate on details.
Paranoid readers may rightly dread a dystopian office where autocratic algorithms prescribe how their humen behave. And yet this meat marionette future seems as improbable as it is undesirable. The more likely outcome is better options and better choices for workers who want to improve their performance. True, this requires a combination of self-awareness and discipline. But selves improvement is inevitable in an era when machine intelligence and capabilities increasingly vies with human talent. Why shouldnt technology augment as well as automate?
The technical ingredients needed to create custom multiple selves already exist. To my head, they feel like parts in a puzzle that no one has bothered to put together. Corporations like Google, Facebook, Amazon and Netflix, with their digital sophistication, algorithmic bona fide and is committed to quality human capital, seem supremely well-positioned to lead a selvesware revolution. The opportunity to construct more people more valuable worldwide is a market opportunity that could and should prove bigger than bots.
Technology that allows us to augment, automate and network our most successful egoes is not the stuff of science fiction; it is a guarantor of a more productive and more humane future. Lets have the ingenuity and heroism to evolve from Know Thyself to Know Thyselves.
Siri, Alexa, Cortana: Its your move.
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