The popular press is filled with notions of how technology advancements (read artificial intelligence, machine learning, and their nerdy sisters) will position man and machine at loggerheads competing for the same job. In my opinion, far from the man versus machine impending sci-fi war, machines will end up playing a much bigger ‘human’ role—a majestic combination of your mom, office mentor, agony aunt, vegetable vendor, domestic help, society matchmaker and so on.
Read on to ascertain how the millennial’s life will seem half a decade from today!
Mehak, a 27-year-old Mumbai girl, is a brand manager with a leading FMCG company. Armed with an arts degree from Mumbai University followed with an MBA from IIM, she is living life king-size.
She is up at 6:30 am sharp to the tune that Google plays in her wristband. Google has adjusted the tune to the level of sunlight and humidity outside along with her quality of sleep the night before. It also suggests the steps she has to cover in the morning during her morning jog. It serves her critical information she can process before she brushes: her fat percentage, nature of impending wrinkles and the quality of her hair!
Prior to stepping out in the morning, Mehak’s fridge opens on its own and churns out the right breakfast. It is ‘right’ because the fridge is smart enough to serve a different meal with the right blend of carbohydrates, nuts and proteins every day. To ensure Mehak’s domestic help doesn’t pinch from the fridge to glory, it only opens looking at Mehak’s early morning face! It has been nearly a decade since Face ID was given birth to!
While running, Mehak’s footwear adjusts as per the terrain (Mumbai roads, after all, are not the most runner friendly) and even sends out instructions to her watch and her phone on the stress the foot is undertaking.
It is easy to dress up if you are Mehak. She wears the same ‘wearable’ shirt every day. Yes, you read it right! It is the same shirt every day. The shirt changes colour and texture automatically. And you don’t need to wash and press it. It is ‘dust’ and ‘wrinkle free’ in the truest sense of the word.
After she battles her way to office in a ‘one-seat cab aggregator’, she walks up to her cubicle to breathe in natural air. The glass window in front of her cubicle facing the street automatically adjusts to simulate pleasant weather inside the office with the right amount of sunlight, wind and humidity.
The first thing she has to do is to take 15 interviews for an entry-level position in her team. She requests her ‘interviewing bot’ to screen the candidates and present her two to three best candidates. She gives the bot clear instructions not to repeat the previous time’s experience. An ethical hacker from IIT managed to crack through the interview process (not him, but his parrot) after his trained parrot managed to crack the interview code and successfully made it to the last round!
She keeps chatting with another bot till lunch. She requests her bot to file her expenses. She asks the bot how her boss’ mood is. The bot replies ‘patchy’. She questions the bot if he fought with his wife. The bot winks at her!
Post lunch, her day seems to take on a more serious note. She asks her bot which promotion she should run for one of her key products during Christmas. The bot replies ‘buy one get one’. She is not convinced. She asks for another answer. The bot replies ‘flat 50 per cent’. She is moderately pleased.
Meanwhile, her company has sent her a few emails on the various engagement measures her company is tracking for her. The company talks about her company engagement score, her depression index (which has been moving in the right direction in the last two months), her stress index, her posture index, her hairline index (one of the company attached vendors also sent in the designs of the latest wigs), her savings index and so on.
At home, the fridge, after the domestic help has grudgingly left, has automatically asked Amazon to send in replenishments. Big basket has been overhearing the conversation between the fridge and Amazon and has sent the same thing at 20 per cent discount, 10 minutes before the Amazon shipment arrived!
During tea, Mehak goes through her Tinder++ app. It is the latest app to be tagged the ‘ultimate unicorn’ (read $10 bn valuation). It shows a person’s original picture minus filters—so if you are fat, you will appear fat! Its astronomical valuations have been attributed to its incredible technology that can actually take a picture without distorting it through exposure, shades, filters, colours and so on.
Her office relationship bot chooses not to converse with her today as her relationship index seems to be improving.
Post work, Mehak decides to try the UberChic ‘self-driving cab aggregator’. She boards a ‘two-seater’ self-driving cab aggregator (she doesn’t want to look cheap by booking a ‘one-seater’ self-driving cab aggregator in front of her colleagues). The cab seems to move effortlessly through the crowded roads in Mumbai till it bangs into something. Not a pole. Not a garbage bin. Not a car. Not a bike. Not a shop. Not a human. Unfortunately, the car bangs into a cow eating at a bakery!
Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!
The cow is tagged with a radio-frequency identification device (RFID) tag. With the impact, the RFID tag of the cow (and the numerous cows in the vicinity) starts beeping viciously. A central alert team is activated. Facebook is tracking status of the cows and marking them safe on their pages. There is panic in the liberal media to ascertain if this is an isolated attack on a cow or a mass technology-enabled attack on all cows.
A few journalists land up. A hundred cops are present at the impact site. Smartphones, sensing commotion outside, start capturing the video at the point of impact.
YouTube is trending. Facebook is trending. Sorry, Instagram is trending. Facebook is for old people! Pinterest is trending. (This is actually a very powerful insight that Facebook is seemingly not being used by the next generation as their preference turns to Instagram. Look at your own friend circle in Facebook and see how many friends of yours less than 25 years of age are active on it.)
While Mehak looks on helplessly expecting her bots to advise her out of the situation, the media is preparing for a vicious debate the next day on whether machines can really do the jobs which men are supposed to!
In conclusion, the above tale is not a figment of imagination. It is closer to reality than you might think it is.
Excerpted from “Hacks for Life and Career: A Millennial’s Guide to Making it Big” by Sandeep Das, courtesy Sage Publications. The author is a strategy consultant and this is his third book.