My Boss is a Robot - Hong Kong’s subway has 10,000+ maintenance engineers, and one AI manager. If you’ve been wondering about the notable lack of updates recently, that’s because I’ve gone back to school at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business MSx program, and they’re keeping us rather busy. Ironically, while I’m working hard to further improve my management skills, this article describes humans who conceded this task altogether to an artificial intelligence algorithm, simply because it does a much better job.
JUST after midnight, the last subway car slips into its sidings in Hong Kong and an army of engineers goes to work. In a typical week, 10,000 people carry out 2600 engineering works across the system – from grinding rough rails smooth and replacing tracks to checking for damage. People might do the work, but they don’t choose what needs doing. Instead, each task is scheduled and managed by artificial intelligence. Hong Kong has one of the world’s best subway systems. It has a 99.9 per cent on time record – far better than London Underground or New York’s subway.
The main difference between normal software and Hong Kong’s AI is that it contains human knowledge that takes years to acquire through experience, says Chun. “We asked the experts what they consider when making a decision, then formulated that into rules – we basically extracted expertise from different areas about engineering works,” he says.
Manufacturing and administrative office work are already highly impacted by automation; are middle managers next in line? Even engineers have nothing to be smug about, as their expertise seems slated to be captured, repackaged, and automated. Next time you’re arguing to get a raise, you just may have to put that in binary.