Rise of sentient tools has deep implications for global workforce, finds Frost & Sullivan

by Brianna Crandall — February 20, 2017 — The quantum technological leaps in artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Smart Cities, cloud intelligence, robotics and intelligent mobility have set the stage for sentient tools to explode onto the global market, according to a new report from global growth partnership company Frost & Sullivan. These tools are aware of and can learn from their surroundings and users, and mark the next step in the evolution of computational systems.

As social 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. The sectors that will be most affected by this disruptive technology include travel/mobility, transport, defense, manufacturing, medical, construction, agriculture, customer service, finance, information and communication, and smart cities, according to the report, although practically no industry will be left unaffected.

Frost & Sullivan Visionary Innovation Research Analyst Yash Mukherjee stated:

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. For this integration to be seamless, organizations have to upgrade the skill sets of their existing labor force.

The analysis reveals that while sentient tools have been molded by advances in computational, sensing and communications technologies over the last 50 years, the incredible progress made in economies, culture and technologies is not complex enough to raise the “awareness” of sentient tools to match human consciousness. Therefore, they cannot mimic or replace human interaction, and will be designed to complement human labor by tackling heavy computing and physical tasks.

As sentient tools are a rapidly developing field, organizations have not yet fully explored the ecosystems and possible partnerships. Economies that are not prepared for the age of sentient tools risk a spurt in unemployment rates in the short term and a wider economic gap in the long term. Unskilled laborers and corporate employees performing support roles that involve routine and repetitive tasks are most at risk of being replaced by sentient tools-enabled automation.

Mukherjee noted:

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. 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.

The Coming Age of Sentient Tools, available for purchase on the Frost & Sullivan Web site, is part of the firm’s Visionary Innovation (Mega Trends) Growth Partnership Subscription. Frost & Sullivan offers complimentary access to more information on this analysis and the chance to register for a Growth Strategy Dialogue, a free interactive briefing with Frost & Sullivan’s thought leaders.