Last week, more than 500 companies representing over a dozen countries convened at the 28th Nasscom Technology and Leadership Forum in Mumbai to discuss how technology will help drive innovation and deliver value over the next decade.

Our CEO Arka, who has instilled a global mindset at Zinier from the start, joined the event to discuss the role of AI and automation on the future of work.

On Friday, he participated in a panel discussion with Raghav Gulur, managing director and board member of ZF, and BVR Mohan Reddy, founder and executive chairman of Cyient. The session, titled From Automation to Autonomy, centered on the pending shift from today’s automation to an autonomous future where machines are able to think, communicate, and act without explicit instruction. It also looked at a number of current and emerging use cases, from self-driving cars to workforce automation.

During Mr. Cheddy’s opening remarks, he suggested that the next 10 years would come to be viewed as a techade, due to exponential growth in Big Data, automation, and IoT devices. He also pointed out that automation – and the corresponding transformation of technologies – is nothing new, pointing to everyday applications like automatic transmissions and windshield wipers that automatically adjust speed based on the volume of water coming down.

The rest of the panel was driven by a series of questions from Mr. Cheddy. Here are some of Arka’s soundbites from the discussion:

1. Where do you see applications of autonomous systems?

“When we look at the world of field service, it’s a lot of critical infrastructure that depends on thousands of men and women working around the clock. Automation will put all of this on autopilot, so you have [systems] that operate in the background without the need for active management.”

“When you think about future applications, wouldn’t it be great if a network could heal itself? If a tower was about to go down, an engineer with the right skills and parts would show up within 10 minutes to fix it.”

“Deploying 5G has its own challenges, because it’s such a human-intensive task. For every traditional tower, you have 300 small cells. It’s an incredible volume of work. This all comes back to automation, because we need to figure out a model where we don’t have to manage all that work.”

2. How will 5G make autonomous environments more cohesive?

“5G offers a number of advantages in terms of latency and bandwidth. When 5G is truly deployed, we will see the medical world revolutionized. When you have faster internet and lower latency, a doctor can remotely be looking at multiple ECG reports.”

“[You could even have] one doctor simultaneously doing five surgeries, which right now requires active connections that a remote village does not have access to. Once the internet is accessible everywhere, what we can do with it is limitless.”

3. How will people and robots work together in the future?

“We’ve been upscaling for centuries. Now we use fires when we go camping, but not for daily warmth. We’re reaching a point where you cannot manage the complex environment we live in without robots managing part of it. Take 5G for instance … it’s humanly impossible to be able to resource for 5G, in developed or developing markets.”

“People are going to be reskilled … if you look at the early 20th century, programming wasn’t a thing. Now you have a lot of programmers and developers. All that does is free people to focus on doing things that require empathy.”

Want to learn more about the intersection of AI, automation, and the future of work? Click here for tips on how you can future-proof your workforce with AI and automation.

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