PLM and Digital Transformation – what can we learn from 35 years old prediction by Isaac Asimov?

PLM and Digital Transformation – what can we learn from 35 years old prediction by Isaac Asimov?

End of the year is a time to look into a crystal ball and say what is going to happen. While prediction is usually a risky business, there are some of them around that are very famous and very precise. I was catching up on reading during the past few days and I found The Star publication of Isaac Asimov prediction about 2019 related to nuclear war, computerization and space utilization.

Check it out – 35 years ago, Isaac Asimov was asked by the Star to predict the world of 2019. Here is what he wrote.

When I was a child, I was fan of reading Isaac Asimov books about robots and future planets. Many things from those books are present in real life now. So, my favorite passage from Asimov’s prediction is about the future of computerization.

The jobs that will disappear will tend to be just those routine clerical and assembly-line jobs that are simple enough, repetitive enough, and stultifying enough to destroy the finely balanced minds of those human beings unfortunate enough to have been forced to spend years doing them in order to earn a living, and yet complicated enough to rest above the capacity of any machine that is neither a computer nor computerized.

It is these that computers and robots for which they are perfectly designed will take over.

The jobs that will appear will, inevitably, involve the design, the manufacture, the installation, the maintenance and repair of computers and robots, and an understanding of whole new industries that these “intelligent” machines will make possible.

This means that a vast change in the nature of education must take place, and entire populations must be made “computer-literate” and must be taught to deal with a “high-tech” world.

It made me think about debates we have about digital transformation in manufacturing and product lifecycle management. It is about technology and people. We will see technologies that is much more capable then current people driven mechanisms. Think about generative design, product configurations, production and manufacturing optimization, demand and procurement planning. These processes will become digitally enabled as well as communication between people.

But what about people and organizations that cannot change? Asimov’s prediction isn’t precise, but you can see some similarity in the trajectories of organization and people changes these days.

The change, however, is much faster this time and society must work much faster; perhaps faster than they can. It means that the next generation will be one of difficult transition as untrained millions find themselves helpless to do the jobs that most need doing.

By the year 2019, however, we should find that the transition is about over. Those who can he retrained and re-educated will have been: those who can’t be will have been put to work at something useful, or where ruling groups are less wise, will have been supported by some sort of grudging welfare arrangement.

What is my conclusion? Industrial revolution and technology progress is unstoppable. Digital transformation is part of new industrial revolution and it is happening much faster than it happened in the past. We have a good chance to live the future soon. Which also put a lot of pressure on people and organization to change. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased


Share This Post