How smart machines will transform labour-intensive industries

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The progress in technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, cloud computing, robotics and intelligent mobility have set the stage for cognitive or sentient tools to emerge onto the global market.

These tools are aware of and can learn from their surroundings and users, and mark the next step in the evolution of computational systems, according to the latest worldwide market study by Frost & Sullivan.

As smart machines that can communicate and interact with their environment, instead of simply being performers of rote tasks, sentient tools can bring about a sea change in labor-intensive industries.

Smart machines market development

The sectors that will be most affected by this disruptive technology include travel, transport, defense, manufacturing, medical, construction, agriculture, customer service, finance, communication, and smart cities.

"Stakeholders looking to integrate automated technology into their value chain are most likely to invest in sentient tools, as they enhance efficiency and productivity while maintaining lean operations," said Yash Mukherjee, research analyst at Frost & Sullivan.

While sentient tools have benefited from advances in computational, sensing and communications technologies over the last 50 years, the progress made thus far is not significant enough to raise the awareness of robotic machines to match human consciousness.

Therefore, according to the Frost & Sullivan assessment, they cannot mimic or replace human interaction and will be designed to complement human labor by tackling heavy computing and physical tasks.

Sentient tools are a nascent field, so most organisations haven't explored the ecosystems and possible partnerships. That said, those that are not prepared may risk staff unemployment, and ultimately a wider economic gap.

Outlook for smart machine applications

In particular, unskilled labourers and semi-skilled corporate employees performing support roles that involve routine and repetitive tasks are most at risk from advances in automation. These people may be displaced by smart machine technology.

"New technology waves have traditionally created technology jobs, but the age of sentient tools is also likely to encourage the development of skills that are not technology related," noted Mukherjee. "These tools will greatly automate mid-level-skill jobs and generate numerous high-level-skill jobs, thus fostering a knowledge-based economy for the future."

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