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Partners: Future of Work Institute

Humans meet Technology

The field of Remote Operations is broad. It encapsulates many processes and technologies around the art of communicating and controlling at a distance, and yet despite our reach to ever increasing levels of automation, the future will remain human-centric.

Humans have creative insight and an ability to learn across a broad range of platforms and problems which has remained unrivalled, thus far, by any piece of software. We have a unique way of understanding the world, no doubt coloured by the fact we observe our universe whilst trying to comprehend our purpose within it.

From the invention of the first telephone in the mid 1800s, to the furthest human object, Voyager 1 – which still sends back packets of data from interstellar space – human beings have evolved alongside technology in order to keep exploring, furthering our reaches into space in an attempt to satisfy our curiosity.

With each leap in human technical ability comes a change in the way we, as a modern society, interact with machines. Remote operations technology has seen the advent of busy airport terminals, automated factories and distanced control centres for mining operations. The technology we develop for space has enabled the development of more advanced processes on Earth, making us more capable, efficient and better able to support large populations in a safe and reliable manner. Importantly, technology will revolutionise the way we do business; not through replacing us, but through the support and thus streamlining of our services, gifting us the time to interact with each other on levels that will improve additively to the quality of our professional outcomes.

Critical technical infrastructure, such as databases and integrated software tools, are the basis from which we can digest, analyse and model the vast amounts of information required to control and manage the systems and tasks for the future. One such inter-relational use for this type of technology was developed for the Undiagnosed Diseases Program in Western Australia (UDP-WA).

Patients (currently children) with rare and sometimes undiagnosed diseases store their files in a Patient Archive, which as well as providing clinicians with access to medical records and summaries of symptoms in the form of collated graphs and tables, can even suggest possible diagnoses for a patient. Algorithms like this one grant clinicians the capability to compare patients against a multitude of others, in order to quickly see patterns where they might arise, and to suggest possible causes that might have otherwise been missed or negated. Healthcare practitioners use this technology as a guide and meet regularly in an Expert Monthly Panel meeting, an initiative by UDP-WA.

The combination of technology-enriched decision-making coupled with the essential collaboration between experts helps ease cognitive stress on clinicians whilst simultaneously boosting their accuracy and certainty in diagnoses. This is an example where technology built for people enables people to better manage for the future workload.

It’s anticipated that the implementation of human-machine cohesive environments will assist pathways to upskill and train for the sustainment of such technology, including how we deliver and share information to provide quick understanding across highly distributed and networked teams. Such capability goes together with the technology needed for remote operations – the art of executing tasks at a distance.

The Future of Work Institute (FoWI), based in Perth, Western Australia, understands this need, and helps people and organisations thrive in the digital age. Employees at the FoWI conduct leading-edge research and translate and disseminate their research through collaborative projects and impact activities. Their world class researchers and staff have a diverse background involving analytics, worker skills and capabilities, work design, human systems integration, and public policy.

The FoWI aims to understand the skills that are needed for the future, how they will be developed, and what organisational systems will enhance or hinder work to optimise the future workplace for creativity, productivity and growth.

As we become better at adopting human technical services into the mainstream, we will become cleverer, and without losing the valuable human insight that enables us to solve problems. In the diverse and highly networked environment of the modern era, technology-enabled solutions will produce synergy between the practical (enhanced terrestrial applications and processes) and the aspirational (the pursuit of scientific discovery) to complete the loop of innovation. Remote operations technology can help us explore the universe and concentrate on the inspirational problems that define us as a species.

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