Let’s take a walk through the automation landscape and look at 7 different examples of technologies in use today to sense where the future is headed.

McDonald’s Announces Kiosks. Facing rising human costs, McDonald’s reduces the need for front-line staff with kiosk-based ordering.

Eatsa expands. In San Francisco, a city famed for an insanely high cost of living, a $7 lunch sounds impossible. Eatsa manages by eliminating humans entirely. Using a mobile app or a kiosk, diners choose their meals and machines prepare it, then deliver in an automated fashion. Eatsa is now expanding to New York City and Washington, DC.

Momentum Machines Comes to SF. Just as Eatsa did, the automatic burger-making robot will be coming to San Francisco. Momentum Machines can crank out 400 customized burgers an hour, or roughly 6 a minute.

What a Tesla Sees. A video by the company shows what the iconic car “sees” in self-driving mode: much more than we humans consciously see. It’s difficult to imagine any human being a safer driver than this computer.

Atlas from Boston Dynamics. The latest generation of Atlas is fully autonomous, picking up and moving around boxes and crates, navigating terrain, and dealing with unexpected situations. In 2015, Atlas passed the DARPA challenge, which included tasks like:

  • Climb an industrial ladder and traverse an industrial walkway.
  • Locate and close a valve near a leaking pipe.
  • Connect a fire hose to a standpipe and turn on a valve.

Press Releases and Sports Scores Written By NLG. Natural language generation (NLG), the next step in natural language processing, permits companies like Automated Insights to create content at massive scale. They provide the news stories for Yahoo Sports about all Fantasy Football reporting.

Watson Writes Music. IBM Watson has learned to improvise and create music. At World of Watson this year, I had a chance to tap out a few notes on a musical keyboard, and Watson turned it into an improv song that was better than what I could have ever done on my own. Watson has since gone on to write chart-topping hits with Alex Da Kid.

Do you see the pattern? Do you see the trend? Beginning with kiosks and ending with Watson writing music, we face a future in which our machines will do our work better than we can, faster than we can, cheaper than we can.

These are not far-off ideas from a science fiction novel. These are products and services that are in-market today.

What does this mean for us? How should we interpret these signs? Here’s a simple benchmark, a simple proof point:

machine graphic

If you do it with a template today, a machine will do it without you tomorrow. Anything that is systematized, anything that is templated will be done by machines faster, cheaper, and better than we humans can do.

Use this as a focus for your career. What can you do that’s valuable that doesn’t fit into a template, into a system, into a routine? That’s where your future is.


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