Operations Management Virtual and Autonomous – The Second Economy

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Virtual and Autonomous – The Second Economy

This year in Singapore Changi Airport at the new Terminal, I saw one airline kiosk issuing a boarding pass, another punched out a luggage tag, then a computer screen showed me how to attach it and another where I should set the luggage on a conveyor. I encountered no single human being. The incident wasn’t important from operations point of view but it left me feeling odd that I was out of human care, that something in our world had shifted.

That made me wonder how exactly the new technologies are changing the economy.

Have digital technologies created a SECOND ECONOMY which is virtual and autonomous one?

Is it steadily providing an external intelligence to business which is not housed internally in human workers but externally in the virtual economy’s algorithms and machines?

When I wanted to dig deeper into this, two things emerged. One- About Distribution and other about what is Intelligence in today’s context?

So this new period we are entering is not so much about production anymore, it is about distribution as to how people get a share in what is produced. Everything from trade policies to government projects to commercial regulations will in the future be evaluated by distribution.

“Intelligence” in today’s context doesn’t mean conscious thought or deductive reasoning or “understanding.” It means the ability to make appropriate associations, or in an action domain to sense a situation and act appropriately.

Driverless traffic when it arrives will have autonomous cars traveling on special lanes, in conversation with each other, with special road markers, and with signaling lights. These in turn will be in conversation with approaching traffic and with the needs of other parts of the traffic system.

The interesting thing here isn’t the form intelligence takes. It’s that intelligence is no longer housed internally in the brains of human workers but has moved outward into the virtual economy, into the conversation among intelligent algorithms. It has become external.

The physical economy demands or queries, the virtual economy checks and converses and computes externally and then reports back to the physical economy, which then responds appropriately. The virtual economy is not just an Internet of Things, it is a source of intelligent action—intelligence external to human workers.

We have entered the distributive era and so much so into Second Economy which is Virtual and Autonomous.

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