While fears that intelligent robots might one day pose us hard seem far-fetched, there are plenty of governments who are – rightly – concerned about the effect automation is having on society and businesses. People fear losing their jobs, and businesses are confused as to how they deal with the threat of new forces in their market.
However, the growth of technologies such as AI, machine learning and the Internet of Things will have many positive effects too. The problem is that it is very difficult to predict what these effects might be. That is why we need to simulate real-world conditions to test these technologies.
The principle of the ‘testbed’ is simple – to allow the careful observation of new developments in a controlled environment. This is the first step in addressing the concerns that governments, CEOs and workers have. These testbeds are a platform in which companies from the affected value chain rigorously test the technology and measure the impact on their business models – positive or negative.
This is an important task – just think about how quickly driverless vehicles are coming to market. This technology has more applications in businesses like logistics than in the consumer world. So it is vital that we ground current uncertainty surrounding its use in something empirical, something that is weightier than the understandable concerns of individuals and news reports.
If you look at the history of industry, each major technological change has undoubtedly affected certain classes of jobs. By examining the likely effects of these changes, we may acknowledge that cutbacks in some places may lead to new opportunity in others. In the Industrial Revolution, for example, the UK’s great cottage industries like textiles were automated and changed forever by factories.
So, the Industrial Internet of Things promises profound change. But if we test not only the technologies but the consequences of that change, we can arm society and its leaders with the tools to respond.
By Roger Bou, director, IoT Solutions World Congress
IoT Solutions World Congress takes place in Barcelona from 25-27 October 2016.