Augmenting Workers Begins with Augmenting the Workplace
Published 12/18/2017

As we move toward a future where Artificial Intelligence continues to become more and more mainstream, we are beginning to see a decline of human workers on the front lines of our businesses. This is because companies feel that by replacing their human workers with automation and machines, they can cut labor costs while not compromising the quality of their products and services. While this is true to a certain extent, businesses are neglecting the fact that machines still cannot do everything humans can do, at least not with the same precision or with the same adaptive and responsive behavior as their human counterparts.

At Symbient, we believe that with people out of the loop there is no need for faster/better products or services in the first place. Without people, you just have machines serving machines and that's not the future we strive to be part of. That's why, instead of replacing human workers with automated machines, we feel it is necessary to augment those workers and utilize them for the knowledge and skills they have acquired from countless years of experience and training. But, before you can truly augment humans to be better workers, you have to begin by augmenting their workplace, or "habitat" as we call it.

Augmenting habitats starts with the introduction of ambient intelligence. This is done by utilizing sensor technology from the Internet of Things complimented by technology from Artificial Intelligence. This symbiotic combination enables habitats to autonomously monitor and perform on behalf of their inhabitants, and I'm not just talking about the human workers. The amalgamation of IoT and AI technologies bridges the gap between man and machine, allowing both to work collaboratively without interfering with the other. It also extends business functionality by now treating the environment itself and everything in it as additional workers.

Just take a look at all of the "enchanted objects" found in the home and workplace today and you'll quickly come to the same realization that we did. Products such as the Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple HomePod are quickly invading one home after the next all around the world, and they're doing so at break-neck speeds. Not only are these products useful for answering questions such as, "How's the traffic?" or "What's the temperature?", but they're also useful for controlling the environment itself through the use of "smart objects". And, as all of those technologies continue to improve, so will their abilities to do more within our habitats which will ultimately impact more of our everyday lives.

To some, humanizing non-living "things" can seem silly or even a bit scary. However, this is the future that we at Symbient view as the inevitable and therefore welcome and embrace that future with open arms. In fact, we are already beginning to see that future today and, like many others, acknowledge its arrival as the "Future of Work".