In 1968 Philip K. Dick published the science fiction thriller Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? In 2021 robots have become so human-like they can blend perfectly into the population but their lifespans are only 4 years. Watch Blade Runner (based on Dick’s novel) if you want to know more but let’s just say humans became anxious once androids decided they too wanted a lifespan like everyone else.
Today Dick’s future is foreshadowed by quite normal business discussions concerning robots, avatars, and automation for the purpose of replacing humans in the workplace. Robot arms have long been present on the factory floor but software robots now send you status updates from Facebook, write newspaper columns for the Associated Press, and engage in online chats—automation is expanding into services with élan. Today business managers dream of roboticizing every conceivable human service that can be broken down into repeatable tasks. In essence each management level is busily planning to obsolete the one below it.
Services automation will be massively disruptive to how we all work but the real question for a world where creativity itself is automated is this—do employees dream of electric sheep?