Gods, Humans and now Robots

Ancient mythology already recognized the self-destructive capability of machines

Add bookmark

Ankur Bansal


A Brief History Lesson

Robots and artificial intelligence are not new. Greek and Indian mythology has several examples of super human technologies.

In Greek mythology, Talos is a human-like machine who throws large stones at enemy ships. Hephaestus – the Greek God of 'Technology' – created it. Technically speaking, Talos is the first ever Robot that existed on Earth.

It also seems that the Greeks had rightly understood the importance of having a dedicated “God for Technology”. By contrast, most modern nations added “Minister of Information Technology” as a cabinet level position only in last decade or two.

In short, Gods have been using powerful Robots and Machines since the beginning of time. Historically, humans also tried achieving the powers that existed within God. There are several mythological legends where a few humans became so powerful that they posed a threat to the Gods themselves. They had their own armies comprised of powerful machine-like Robots – intelligent concepts that could take them to space, etc.
Every time it happened, it caused conflict between humans and Gods because Gods could not trust humans with power that could be self-destructive.

The Present

The main difference today is that historically such achievements were far rarer and limited to a few privileged human beings. At present, where we stand, it seems that the adoption of BOTS, AI and Intelligent Automation is going to be a reality with high penetration and scale.
The latest STATE OF THE GLOBAL SHARED SERVICES MARKET REPORT 2019 by SSON reveals that 32% of surveyed respondents have now implemented some version of Intelligent Automation, up from 9% a year ago.

By the time we get to the next survey, I am sure the numbers will have soared further.

In a previous article, I argued about the need to have strong and globally accepted laws for AI and IA. Various global forums have started raising their voices to regulate and define policies that control Robots, AI and IA. The first step in this direction was in May 2018 when the EU decided to bring GDPR into force, which requires companies to explain how algorithms using personal data work and make decisions.

The question is: Where are we going, and what does the future have in store for us?

The need to be “Future-ready”

The question is really what constitutes a good policy? And is it supposed to enhance the innovation or be a hindrance to so called self-destructive technologies?

The need of the hour is to manage to work in a complicated environment with a clear foundation of values.
We need global forums that are characterized by the following:

  1. Powerful forums that have a voice across the globe
  2. Regulatory approach to be more adaptive and flexible – Gone are the days when regulators formed a policy and waited and watched. They now need to be iterative and make course corrections during the process.
  3. Collaboration – Regulators will need to collaborate with firms, governments and the public as all of them are important stakeholders in this journey

As governments work on regulations and policies, organizations need to think about their readiness and maturity to adopt AI, IA and other emerging technologies. Assess yourself on the following:

Ready to Launch

  • Have you organized your teams, talent and support functions to launch emerging technologies?
  • Are you ready to brace for new challenges including regulatory, cyber security and policies?
  • Are you prepared to learn from failures?

Maturity to move to next level

  • Do you have next Generation leaders lined up?
  • Does your organization have the processes, people and tools to move to the next level of emerging technologies and execute on them?
  • How does your organization stand in the order of maturity level to take on a new set of challenges?
  • Are you ready to scale?

Regulatory, Security and Policy Readiness

  • Are you geared to understand various regulatory and policy changes?
  • Do you have teams and people to deal with government and regulatory bodies?
  • Are you able to keep pace with the demands of technology evolution and yet involve various government and regulatory bodies?
  • Do you believe you can influence public policy?

SSON’s annual Global IA Market Reports provide a strong foundation for building an IA strategy. Download now

One thing is certain. The future, however exciting, is going to be complex and uncertain. If organizations do not anticipate and prepare now, they can land up in an ocean full of hindrances (regulatory, security or policy).

It’s up to you to decide which side you want to be on – but it needs planning, focus and preparation.