Last time, I covered the Internet of Things. Now it’s time for Smart Machines.
What’s a “Smart Machine?” Here’s a good definition, from TechTarget:
A smart machine is a device embedded with machine-to-machine (M2M) and/or cognitive computing technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning or deep learning, all of which it uses to reason, problem-solve, make decisions and even, ultimately, take action.
You can lump a LOT of emerging technology into the Smart Machines category. Here are some examples:
- Robots – from simple tools like the Rumba vacuum cleaner to Amazon Robotics. Amazon is using smart robots in their warehouses for over a year.
- Conversational Systems – Apple’s Siri, Amazon Alexa and Google Duplex are all examples of conversational systems
- Automated vehicles – you’ve probably read about self-driving cars in the news. A few companies have experimented with autonomous trucks, and have even made a delivery or two.
- Smart cars – Cars with touch-screen controls, autopilot, traffic-aware cruise control, and Heads Up Displays (HUD) on windshields.
- Drones – Amazon, DHL, Walmart, and UPS (among others) are experimenting with drone delivery services.
- Predictive analytics – Predictive analytics is when a machine or service uses data, algorithms, statistics, and machine learning to identify future needs based on data. For example, my library uses a Nutanix hyperconverged system in our data center. It uses predictive analytics to help us plan for future upgrades.
As you can imagine, Smart Machines are pretty disruptive! Smart Machines will definitely disrupt the job market. Some jobs that will be replaced by smart, automated machines seem pretty obvious, like assembly line and warehouse work. But how about jobs like lawyers, doctors, bartenders, chefs, and journalists? Some people think these types of jobs can also be automated by smart machines.
How do Smart Machines affect libraries?
Well … they already are. Not really “smart” machines – but there are machines already doing human work in libraries. Some larger libraries use robotics to store and retrieve books. My library has an Automated Materials Handling (AMH) machine that speeds up book sorting and returns. We couldn’t do what we do without it!
Self-check kiosks – I’m old enough that I remember library staff pulling out the paper due date card in books and stamping the due date on it. It made a great bookmark … and you could see who had checked out the book last (because for some strange reason, you had to write your name on the card for everyone to see). Now I can use my library’s self-check kiosks and RFID technology to check out books. No lines, no stamps, and no handy due date card bookmarks.
I’ve already mentioned predictive analytics in my library’s data center. How about using predictive analytics to make your collection better? That’s one possibility with OCLC Wise, OCLC’s new ILS system. One goal with OCLC Wise is to use data and analytics to help shape collections.
How about desk shift scheduling? There are a couple of products out there that automate this task. For example, Springshare’s LibStaffer has an auto-scheduler built in. If someone calls in sick, LibStaffer will find a replacement so you don’t have to.
Drone delivery of books? Not there yet! But in 10-20 years? Who knows!
More information about Smart Machines:
- Welcome to a World of “Artificial Intelligence” & “Smart Machines”
- Everything You Need To Know About Smart Machines
- How Will Machines and AI Change the Future of Work?
- Robots Uncaged: How Smart Machines Will Change Business
- Replaced by robots: 10 jobs that could be hit hard by the A.I. revolution
Robot pic by Robin Zebrowski