How Data Is Making Us More Human

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How Data Is Making Us More Human

What do an Uber driver, app developer, social media manager, data scientist, influencer, and drone operator have in common?

They are all jobs that didn’t exist 10 years ago and they’re all a result of the super-fast technological change  something that shows no sign of slowing.

According to Willis Towers Watson, 65 percent of children going into primary school today will end up working in jobs that don’t yet exist. That’s an impressive stat, but it’s nothing new. Remember, a decade ago the first iPhone had just launched and Twitter was only just starting out. We are a generation familiar with constant change and fast-paced innovation.

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I see headlines every day out about how robots will take our jobs and why AI could destroy more jobs that it creates. But in practice, I don’t see it and the data doesn’t show it. Globally, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO) the unemployment rate is predicted to fall and in France specifically, is at its lowest level since 2009.

SAP is Europe’s biggest tech company — the only one valued at more than $100 billion and through the acquisition of newer, more disruptive companies and technologies, we have become both the tech originator and innovator. From where I’m sitting, technology is not limiting human capability, it’s augmenting it.

Elon Musk, someone synonymous with technological progress and AI-led autonomy agrees. When faced with production delays of his new electric car, he recently tweeted: “Yes, excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake. To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated.”

This is the clearest example yet of why people aren’t and won’t be cast aside by a new team of robots. At SAP, we’re 13,000 strong in the EMEA North region and we’re focused on how we empower our people and our customers to make more informed decisions faster. The digital enterprise of the future will be built and led by people who can augment their capability with data, not by robots.

I would argue that data is actually making us more human. It allows us to spend time on creative projects where emotion, tone, and sentiment is at the heart of everything we do. By understanding how to collaborate with machines to augment human capabilities we can be a driver of innovation, a creator of wealth, and a purpose-driven business committed to social impact.

Artificial intelligence (AI) might one day be able to tell you the answer to the Yang–Mills existence and mass gap, one of the unsolved Millennium Prize Problems. But, it won’t be able to understand the cultural or social impact of using digitization to combat the impact of climate change or the difference the technology at the center of complex medical issues makes to the families of people saved and cured.

Our belief is that the innovation economy will be shaped by thriving technology ecosystems that require three key elements: great people, talented teams, and purpose-driven businesses that can influence, impact, and supercharge growth — three human qualities.

Spotting new talent and training and retaining and retraining people who will make up the future workforce is essential to compete in the innovation economy; we need people who think differently.

As we realize the impact of exponential thinking and technologies, including AI and machine learning, we will better understand how innovation will augment human capability and accelerate social, environmental, and economic change.

Brian Duffy is president of EMEA North at SAP.

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