I had the distinct pleasure of spending a few minutes within Michio Kaku, a distinguished theoretical physicist, futurist and popularizer of science through TV specials on the "Discovery Channel," "History Channel" and "Science Channel."
Dr. Kaku, professor at City College of New York, has written numerous books on physics in addition to several New York Times bestsellers, including "Physics of the Impossible," "Physics of the Future" and the "Future of the Mind."
In our short time together prior to his keynote at Shop.org's Retail Digital Summit, I was able to ask him about the future of the professions. Here's a snapshot of our conversation:
Even with advanced interpretation abilities, we will still rely on our ability to interact with people like teachers, doctors and lawyers who can truly interpret the nature of the interaction.
Murph: You are known for being a futurist as well as a theoretical physicist. In their book, "The Future of the Professions," Richard and Daniel Susskind predicted that even professionals who have traditionally been the keepers of specialized knowledge, will not be immune from the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
So, with super computers like IBM's "Watson" currently learning everything and having the resources of Big Data at its grasp, what do you envision as the future of not only the professions such as doctors, lawyers, accountants and even physics professors, but humanity in general?
Dr. Kaku: Watson has no people-to-people skills, no common sense and no pattern recognition abilities. This makes Watson's overall intelligence level only slightly greater than a bug. People will continue to look to professionals because they want true "intellectual capital" and "human interaction."
Murph: If lawyers, doctors and accountants have Watson-proof occupations, what kind of jobs will Watson potentially eliminate?
Dr. Kaku: Watson is destined to eliminate front-end positions like "bean counters" and "inventory handlers," as well as many middle layer positions that focus on gathering, sorting and organizing data. But even with advanced interpretation abilities, we will still rely on our ability to interact with people like teachers, doctors and lawyers who can truly interpret the nature of the interaction. Watson can't do those things. It's really just a calculator with internet access.
Insightful Accountant readers who are interested in seeing where Dr. Kaku thinks humanity and technology are headed should read his book, "The Future of the Mind."