INSIGHT: Why robots won't rule NZ businesses by 2040...

David Reiss, Business technology specialist, Spark Digital, questions the practical applications of the rise of technology in most Kiwi industries...

I've just read a thought provoking article in Computerworld New Zealand, quoting MYOB Chief Technology Officer Simon Raik-Allen's "Future of Business Report: New Zealand 2040".

The premise is that we could be so deeply online by 2040 that we will never need to meet a colleague in person and instead interact with holograms and virtual representations of each other.

While the technology will definitely be available by then, I have some questions about the practical applications in most industries.

Obviously there's global scale advantages for professional services and information workers; but I think there are still going to be many industries where technology will augment reality rather than replace it.

I think that in-person interaction will always be preferred for certain industries, by certain people and for some tasks. For example, while robots may be used for some things, I'm not sure how welcome they will be for massage or other health services.

Human beings are also likely to stay considerably cheaper than high functioning robots; so while worker replacement might be technically possible, it's unlikely to be economically viable.

Also as good as robots or virtual reality could be, there's still the "uncanny valley" to get through; if something is really close to lifelike, but not quite, the brain actually rejects it. I don't think the required level of realism is going to be widely available by 2040.

So while I see technology breaking down the barriers of distance globally and nationally, a strongly augmented in-person experience is likely to be preferred locally.

By David Reiss - Business technology specialist, Spark Digital

The views in this article are that of the author

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