The future is a bleak place for humans. Artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, robots and autonomous vehicles working together will all create an environment where the talents that elevated mankind above the rest of the animals become largely redundant. Manual labour will be automated and handled by armies of robots and the more complex tasks will be left to supercomputers. These are no longer just the imaginings of movies like i-Robot, Terminator, Wall-E or the soon-to-be-rebooted Bladerunner. Science fiction is fast becoming science fact. You just need to look through Aki Anastasiou’s reportback from CES to see what’s already in the works.
This tech evolution is also starting to impact the job market. A quick Google search and you easily find numerous examples of autonomous mining equipment. Closer to home, in the editorial field, there are algorithms being employed to write formulaic sports and financial news stories. The examples of tech taking over are countless, and I’m not sure the likes of Cosatu are even aware it’s coming.
Given the above scenarios, there are two paths open to us. In the first vignette, we continue plodding along and find established jobs being automated and realise that, as technologists, we played a big part in our own species’ demise. Alternatively, human evolution has to quicken, spurred on by the rapidity of technological change, and we transform jobs and careers to find a place in this future where mankind remains on top. There’s always secret option three, where we find the Terminator series’ John Connor and go back in time to destroy the first computer, but that is, of course, just fantasy.
Anyway, the point behind this largely dystopian monologue is that adapting our skills to match technology will be key to our future. A little closer to home and more immediate, as an industry, we risk leaving whole generations behind by the broadening digital divide, and that’s before the dawn of the robots. Skills and filling jobs continue to be major challenges for the South African IT industry. This is the key theme for this issue of The Margin. I’m also proud to use the magazine to raise awareness for an industry-wide skills initiative launched by ITWeb and our sister publication Brainstorm called Isibani (see page 38).
Another issue of concern is South Africa’s energy challenge, and you’ll find an article on this and the opportunities it presents. You’ll also find pieces about partner funding, brand management and corruption in the channel. And, from a tech perspective, we’ve conducted a mini-survey on the PC market and there are features on selling servers and PC accessories. It’s a jam-packed issue.
I hope you find something that captures your attention and gives you something to think about.
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