Artificial Intelligence, Competition and Balloons
W. Edward Deming taught that quality is achieved by measuring as much as possible and reducing variations, and reducing variation is achieved by improving the system, not just pieces. Japan widely adopted Deming’s philosophies in the 1950s and became the 2nd biggest economy in the world. Quality improvement didn’t decrease jobs in Japan, it increased jobs.
AI now has the ability to expand and codify Deming’s philosophies – to take them to the next level. AI can improve and standardize decision making based on logic, rather than the fear of missing objectives, bonuses or losing one’s job. It can continuously monitor for quality against specifications by analyzing streams of real-time data coming from embedded sensors connected to the IIoT, IoT and IoA (internet of agriculture). This means companies that are aggressive early adopters of these digital technologies will have more knowledge, higher quality and significant competitive advantages, which means more demand for their products, sales, customer service, manufacturing, distribution, etc. It also means aggressive adopters will likely generate more jobs.
Market competition, however, is like a balloon, when one end is squeezed, it just moves and expands in another direction. When the market catches up with a competitive advantage and the advantage ceases, competition moves to another part of the ecosystem. With sensors, IoT, automation and AI, it likely means competition will move to even higher levels of quality and precision – often in areas never before possible before sensors, IoT and AI, and the speed of response to fast changing trends and demands. This opens up opportunities for more new innovations and jobs to be created.
Employment also has historically been like a balloon. When one industry is contracting, another emerges and expands. Digitizing the physical world to better understand it and create value is one of those expansion areas. Digitizing requires creating digital twins of physical things by creating or capturing digital information, identifying, locating, categorizing, measuring, monitoring, managing and analyzing things. These steps are followed by entrepreneurs and innovators developing new solutions based on what is learned. Examples of things that have been or will be digitized include: healthcare, manufacturing, banking, transportation, crime fighting, agriculture, etc. All of these digitization efforts spawn new ideas and businesses, and generate new jobs. Once the initial work of capturing the data from these digitization efforts is complete and automated, the next phase is understanding how to improve, manage and control systems as a result of the data. The act of improving or adjusting systems based on the new data means even more work and jobs.
In this new digital world, there will be an immense amount of work to do. Work like setting up and maintaining a continuously growing system of global sensors for collecting data, transmitting the data, storing it, securing it in data centers, analyzing it and creating new solutions. The findings of the data analysis will then be used to develop new solutions, processes, systems and companies. As more processes, and both natural and artificial systems become increasingly digitized, work to control, manage and improve them will increase. As systems of sensors and AI expand, more precision will be possible and competition will increase again in these areas, and as a result, more investments will be made and jobs created.
Once unknowns become knowns (through data capture and digitization), smart people will build new businesses and solutions to take advantage and add value on the new knowns. Investments and jobs will then migrate to the new frontier in search of competitive advantages. When something new is made possible – jobs will be created. As something new evolves into something ubiquitous it will be automated and competition will migrate outward. The good news is that the circle, the edge, this mobile boundary of an expanding circumference represents more jobs and more opportunities for innovation, employment and competitive advantages. This is the rule of the “Expanding Mobile Boundary of Innovation.”
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