April – Artificial Intelligence

Last month I wrote an article on 4 types of bad bosses using information from an article by Brigette Hyacinth. In that article I indicated I had ordered her book, The Future of Leadership, Rise of Automation, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence. It arrived, I read it, and it will scare the _____ out of you. I was most interested on the topic of Artificial Intelligence and its possible impact on planning and government.

She discusses both Artificial Intelligence, AI, and Robotics. Robotics seems to me more like a mechanical and mathematics system which eventually may be run by AI. From this article, I will pull out a few of her key insights which you can use for your own analysis   such as:

Everything that can be automated, will be automated.

Hyacinth defines AI as a branch of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines or programs that think, learn, and react like human beings. The three industries that she suggests AI will most disrupt in the next 10 years are Healthcare (we are already seeing many articles on this), Finance (we are seeing this already), and Transportation (this is the one that will likely have the most impact on planning and city building).

She suggests that robots and AI will eventually do away with many jobs. I see this as further impacting the employment and financial job issues we have already seen and further impact the haves (1%) and the rest of us. Some (Bill Gates) are already suggesting that robots be taxed and other experts are starting conversations about a Universal Basic Income for people who are displaced.

The previous industrial revolution involved human augmentation. This coming revolution involves human replacement. The entire point of automation is to reduce overhead. How do you do that? You remove salaries, benefits, and human error.

Some of the impacts on planning and government are underway such as:

  • Most consumers expect business to be available 24-7. This would include all aspects of the development process which, while slower than I had expected, is well on its way.
  • When my firm was working for developers, we had a saying, “Never believe what you are told at the front counter.” We were just burned too many times. Information at the front counter would appear to be a logical use of AI.
  • I am still getting asked for notarized documents, a waste of time. AI is capable of a more reliable source of who you are.
  • Still can’t understand your own zoning code or its relation to the General Plan? AI should be able to solve this issue and the automated zoning codes we are seeing are a modest start.

By accepting change, you put yourself on more solid footing in dealing with the unexpected.

Business leaders will remain, but lower and middle management may be replaced.

The most sought-after abilities will include communication, emotional and social intelligence, creativity, innovative thinking, empathy, critical thinking, collaboration, and cognitive flexibility.

Using AI, we don’t have to work repetitive unchallenging jobs and can instead focus on other things.

Could this actually be doing planning?

I’ve only scratched the surface in this article but will comment further in future articles.

It is up to you to keep your eyes open and look ahead. Isn’t that what we do as planners?

The Management Doctor