Adam Warby on the move with Maggie Philbin

  • Posted on April 11, 2017

Will humans be replaced by robots in the workplace? Maggie Philbin, TeenTech CEO and former presenter on the BBC’s “Tomorrow’s World” joins Avanade CEO Adam Warby on the move.

In a world where technology is transforming virtually every aspect of work and life, it is easy to make the leap that humans will ultimately be squeezed out of the digital workplace by robo-bosses and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Maggie Philbin, a 30-year veteran of the technology industry, is more of an optimist. “Technology has great power to do good” she asserts. “I believe that diverse perspectives will play a key role in technology advancements of the future.”

In the latest episode of On the Move with Adam Warby, Philbin says “Technology really does impact every part of our lives these days and I hope we see a broader cross-section of society developing innovative uses for technology in the future.  If we give teenagers today the skills to do that, then I think we will see some really exciting ideas come through.”

Maggie Philbin has worked in radio and television for 30 years on a wide range of science, medical and technology programs although she is perhaps most well known for her role on the BBC’s Tomorrow’s World.  Her passion for technology has earned her many distinctions in the UK, including as most influential woman in UK IT by Computer Weekly and the 2016 Digital Leader of the Year.

Philbin’s latest endeavor is as CEO of UK-based TeenTech, which aims to help young people, their parents and teachers see the wide range of career possibilities in Science, Engineering and Technology (STEM).

Philbin, who recalled testing the first-ever demo of virtual reality in 1986 and the first generation of mobile phones, told Warby that today’s teenagers must be made aware that careers in science, engineering and technology go far beyond the “obvious programming” type jobs. And even in a world of AI (Artificial Intelligence), virtual reality and beyond, tomorrow’s workforce will need to bring their “human traits” to their jobs—skills that Philbin believes may be less emphasized in career training.

“Our education system doesn’t always deliver on some of the qualities that we really need,” she said. “A young person may come from an amazing university but doesn’t have real-world skills. They find it hard to work in teams. They’re poor at communicating. If you talk to teachers, they refer to these as ‘soft skills’ but I refer to them as core skills because I think they are fundamental.”

While robots and AI have the potential to make our work lives easier, Philbin points to a recent trip to the Bristol Robotics Lab, where teenage participants saw first-hand how robots will work alongside humans and the important traits people bring to the workplace of the future.

“Some of the questions around robots is around the extent that they will replace or amplify/improve upon what we as humans do,” she said. “These fundamental questions are philosophical ones.”

As today’s teenagers prepare for their future careers in technology, who are they most influenced by? Watch the video to find out who tops the list—and why they may not be the most qualified to guide young people to a career choice.

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