“Everything that can be automated will be automated.” You probably have heard this quote in more recent history. I last heard it at the West Virginia Chamber’s annual meeting last year. This time they were spoken by Brad D. Smith, former CEO of Intuit and co-founder of the Wing 2 Wing Foundation.
As I was listening to Smith’s presentation and he uttered those familiar words, I had to stop and think about what that really might mean. What does it mean for workers, for businesses? How will society change if that is true? The prospects didn’t, and still doesn’t scare me; it intrigues me.
Humans will never become obsolete, so all the fretting about the takeover of artificial intelligence, is probably largely overstated. I do, however, think that the question of automation in routine work will undoubtedly be a challenge, while also presenting unique opportunities for creativity in the way we live, work, and prepare our young.
I graduated from high school in 1972. That’s right, 50 years ago. Lol! Back then I could not have envisioned the technological changes that would become so integrated into our everyday lives. Cellphones, online learning platforms, streaming content services, online banking, cashless purchases, social media, electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles. The list feels nearly endless. These innovations have forever changed how we work, play, and interact with one another. While they have made so many of our lives easier, they bring with them a need for critical thinking as to their use and usefulness.
So many of these technologies are available to most of us even in our rural communities. As broadband continues to roll out, we will have access to even more. As exciting as it may be to anticipate the future (think of what the world may look like by 2072) what we have here, right now, is a beautiful state filled with natural wonders. This is what we have that keeps us here and attracts others. So, as the weather warms, I urge everyone to get out your bikes, take a walk, have a picnic in the park, enjoy a lemonade with a neighbor. Those are the things that make us human and can never be automated.