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Is Human + Machine Collaboration Possible?

In this age of Artificial Intelligence (AI), we are witnessing a transformation in the way we live, work, and do business.

From robots that share our environment and smart homes, to supply chains that think and act in real-time, forward-thinking companies are using AI to innovate and expand their businesses more rapidly than ever. 

This is a time of change and change happens fast. Those able to understand that the future includes living, working, co-existing, and collaborating with AI are set to succeed in the coming years. On the other hand, those who neglect the fact that business transformation in the digital age depends on human and machine collaboration will inevitably be left behind.  

Humans and machines can complement each other resulting in increasing productivity and is paramount for organisations. Having the right mindset for AI means being at ease with the concept of human + machine, and leaving the mindset of human vs machine behind. 

AI is regenerating the workplace

AI is creating brand new roles and opportunities for humans, and is regenerating the concept and meaning of work in industrial settings in the following ways: 

  1. Increased flexibility
  2. Faster production lines
  3. The ability to operate on a bigger scale
  4. More informed decision making
  5. Greater Personalisation

AI will create new roles and opportunitiesMachine + Human Collaboration 

Of course, some roles will naturally come to an end, however, the changes toward human and machine collaboration require the creation of new roles and the recruiting of new talent. 

Robotics and AI will replace some jobs, liberating humans for other kinds of tasks many that do not yet exist. In many cases, AI is freeing up human creativity, letting people work more like humans and less like robots. 

Re-evaluating the workplace is critical

Re-evaluating the workplace will become necessary in order for machines and humans to co exist. 

In “Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI”, Paul Daugherty and H. James Wilson identify eight fusion skills that will become necessary for the workplace:

  • Rehumanising time: People will have more time to dedicate toward more human activities, such as increasing interpersonal interactions and creativity.
  • Responsible normalising: It is time to normalise the perception of human and machine interaction as it relates to businesses, and society as a whole. 
  • Judgment integration: Machines may not be capable of making some decisions. In this case, humans must be prepared to sense how and when to step in and provide input. 
  • Intelligent interrogation: Humans must have the ability to ask machines smart questions. 
  • Bot-based empowerment: Bots can help people be more productive and become better at their jobs, extending human capabilities and reinventing business processes. 
  • Holistic (physical and mental) melding: The full reimagination of business processes only becomes possible when humans create working mental models of how machines work and learn, and when machines capture user-behaviour data to update their interactions.
  • Reciprocal apprenticing: In the past, people learned how to use machines, but now machines are learning from humans, and humans learn again from machines. 
  • Relentless reimagining: This is the ability to reimagine how things currently are—and to continue reimagining how AI can improve work processes etc.

The authors propose a continuous circle of learning, an exchange of knowledge between humans and machines. 

(Extracts from “Human + Machine Collaboration: Work in the Age of Artificial Intelligence”, Interesting Engineering, Sept 28th 2019)Tim's thoughts

Plunkett Associates thoughts...

In my apprenticeship a human taught me to use a ‘dumb’ machine, in a single generation we have moved to the potential of the machine deciding what you need to know and how that information is best presented to extract the quickest response. The potential power of the technology is really only now limited by our ability to imagine, we are becoming the limitation!

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    Jim Copestick. Design Manager, Thorlux Lighting
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    Mark Williams, Research and Development Director, Johnson Safety Products
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    Carolina Ballon-Forrester, Director, Kittyrama Ltd
  • Plunkett Associates worked on the design and production of titanium frames for an artificial heart valve where precision and consistency was paramount. Communications were efficient and productive with concepts readily incorporated into the final design, and suggestions for improvements all highly appropriate. The quality of the end product was ideal and I have no doubt that I will use the advice and expertise of Plunkett Associates again.
    David Wheatley, Wheatley Research Ltd
  • “Thanks for the present that arrived this morning, as promised. Parts look first class, as always.”
    Jon Todd, Design Manager, PHS Group
  • “Plunkett Associates have a fantastic supply chain, work with all sorts of production processes and will always do their utmost to solve a problem.”
    Naim Audio
  • “ Plunketts developed a solution that met our precision requirements at a cost significantly lower than alternative manufacturing approaches we had investigated”
    Nick Skaer, CEO, Orthox Ltd
  • “Doing business with you has been an absolute pleasure. You have made my goals a reality. You have been patient, helpful and above all, responsive. Best service that I have experienced in ages. I consider Plunkett Associates to be an integral part of my business plan moving forward.”
    Jet Cooper, Sculptor

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  • “Plunkett Associates have excellent breadth of experience, work with high quality partners and have a flexibility that we have found enables challenges to be met successfully, cost effectively and in a timely manner.”
    Nick Skaer, CEO, Orthox Ltd
    Nick Skaer, CEO, Orthox Ltd
  • Plunkett associates always find a solution. Whatever we need to prototype, they have a great grasp on the technologies available, costs and lead-times so we get the right solution tailored to the project needs. Have always delivered and never let us down.
    Naim Audio
    Naim Audio
  • “I can’t recommend Tim and his team highly enough. We ended up with a design which can be produced and assembled quickly, efficiently and reliably, in volumes that make sense”
    Simon Leggett, Director, Olivewood Technology
    Simon Leggett, Director,  Olivewood Technology
  • "Tim's experience, expertise and supplier base have been fundamental to us getting this project off the ground."
    Sam Pearce, Jelly Products Ltd
    Sam Pearce, Jelly Products Ltd
  • “We were really surprised at how quickly they turned round such a high quality prototype and the parts certainly proved their worth. They were of high enough quality to provide a fantastic visual representation and to undergo rigorous testing."
    Stuart Wilson, Design Director, TRT Lighting
    Stuart Wilson, Design Director, TRT Lighting
  • “Accuracy, finish and delivery all first class.”
    Andrew Peters, JMDA Ltd
    Andrew Peters, JMDA Ltd
  • “We use Plunkett Associates because we want someone we can trust, that knows what they’re talking about, has all the contacts, will provide reliable advice and feedback and will get the right result for us.”
    Jim Copestick. Design Manager, Thorlux Lighting
    Jim Copestick. Design Manager, Thorlux Lighting
  • “We always know exactly what we’re getting and we know we won’t be let down on quality, price or lead times.”
    Mark Williams, Research and Development Director, Johnson Safety Products
    Mark Williams, Research and Development Director, Johnson Safety Products
  • “Plunkett Associates truly offer a complete turnkey solution with Speed, Effectiveness and Precision.”
    David Harden, Director, Enica Ltd
    David Harden, Director, Enica Ltd
  • “Kirintec were thrilled with Plunketts. They made a complex process simple and we were just amazed at the lead times achieved. Plus, every single deadline was met without any drama.”
    Penny While, Marketing Director, Kirintec
    Penny While, Marketing Director, Kirintec
  • “Thanks to Plunkett Associates flexible, bespoke and cost effective service I was able to produce the objects that I had originally had in mind.”
    Simon Ryder, Artist
    Simon Ryder, Artist
  • To create such a consistent quality finish in chrome was an amazing achievement and the prototypes really gave our stand the wow factor.
    James Clark, Group Commercial Director, The Airdri Group
    James Clark, Group Commercial Director, The Airdri Group
  • Interestingly, people who look at it in its own right with little knowledge of what it does, just like it! It’s tactile and it looks good…
    Tim Collings, Operations Director, Troika Systems Ltd
    Tim Collings, Operations Director, Troika Systems Ltd
  • "With their simple to understand language, willingness to go the extra mile and approachability, Plunkett Associates were a great partner for our company. We couldn’t be happier with the results of our project. (A working prototype that they got right first time, by the way). Thank you!"
    Carolina Ballon-Forrester, Director, Kittyrama Ltd
    Carolina Ballon-Forrester, Director, Kittyrama Ltd
  • Plunkett Associates worked on the design and production of titanium frames for an artificial heart valve where precision and consistency was paramount. Communications were efficient and productive with concepts readily incorporated into the final design, and suggestions for improvements all highly appropriate. The quality of the end product was ideal and I have no doubt that I will use the advice and expertise of Plunkett Associates again.
    David Wheatley, Wheatley Research Ltd
    David Wheatley, Wheatley Research Ltd
  • “Thanks for the present that arrived this morning, as promised. Parts look first class, as always.”
    Jon Todd, Design Manager, PHS Group
    Jon Todd, Design Manager, PHS Group
  • “Plunkett Associates have a fantastic supply chain, work with all sorts of production processes and will always do their utmost to solve a problem.”
    Naim Audio
    Naim Audio
  • “ Plunketts developed a solution that met our precision requirements at a cost significantly lower than alternative manufacturing approaches we had investigated”
    Nick Skaer, CEO, Orthox Ltd
    Nick Skaer, CEO, Orthox Ltd
  • “Doing business with you has been an absolute pleasure. You have made my goals a reality. You have been patient, helpful and above all, responsive. Best service that I have experienced in ages. I consider Plunkett Associates to be an integral part of my business plan moving forward.”
    Jet Cooper, Sculptor
    Jet Cooper, Sculptor