Watson, IBM’s super crazy powerful computer, is trouncing the human competition in the Man-Vs.-Machine match up on Jeopardy. And the human beings he (it) has beaten aren’t anything like you and me. They are super crazy smart and already highly accomplished at the TV game show. Technology has and will continue to advance at a pace heretofore unimaginable. The question as to whether (or when) man would figure out how to create Artificial Intelligence, however, was answered in a significant way by Watson tonight. It’s kind of scary. No, it’s really scary.
If Watson can win at Jeopardy, I’m here to tell you Watson is the new poster child for the HR profession’s biggest competitor. Yep, that’s right. Watson can do our jobs.
Think about it for a moment. Everything that was HR’s essence 20 years ago is now automated or outsourced; everything that was HR’s essence 10 years ago is now a strong candidate for automation or outsourcing; everything that is HR’s essence today will be done by Watson 10 years from now. Ok, maybe not everything…but most of it. Call me a naysayer, a defeatist, a pessimist, a neer-do-well; call me an asshole. I am in fact all of those things. All you HR purists out there who think your organization and its employees can’t live without you will be the first to have Watson sitting in your office. Those of you who sense the vulnerability that is your trusted trade will be the first who actually do something about setting this profession on an entirely – and radically – different trajectory. And that will necessarily involve a reinvention not quite understood by any of us.
Believe me; I’d love for you to prove me wrong. I really would. But mark your calendars and look me up in 10 years. You’ll either be calling from the Starbucks where you’ll be working on your resume or (hopefully) from your big fat corner office in the business to which you became indispensable.
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