(As originally published on LinkedIn, May 2017)

The Robots are coming!

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By: Trent Henry, EY Canada’s Chairman and CEO

We hear it all the time: the robots are coming. But when I stop to think about my day to day, I’m inclined to say they’re already here.

Our technology is so seamlessly woven into all that we do. From plugging a client’s office address into my car’s GPS, to directing my smartphone to help me find a good lunch restaurant nearby, to instantly sharing my son’s latest hockey goal or paying for parking using my own mobile wallet…

It all seems so natural and effortless that I tend to forget just how amazing this technological wizardry really is. 

We take these things for granted. But the fact is, it’s all rather extraordinary. We’re living in the most disrupted time in history. The technological innovations we use on a daily basis are revolutionary. They’re transforming lives around the world, and the pace of innovation is accelerating all the time.

The workplace is one of the areas most affected by these innovations. Digital processes are increasing efficiency and productivity, and changing how we work and interact. Artificial intelligence (AI) is making decisions for us and robotic processes are doing tasks that were traditionally done by hand.

But what does it all mean? Are robots going to take over the world and displace us all? Are we putting ourselves out of work, and potentially at the mercy of machines?

It’s not about putting anyone out of a job or making them redundant. It’s about setting robotics to mundane processes that are often very time consuming for people, and thereby freeing up their time to focus on what they do best. Things like sifting through massive amounts of data and putting it to use in strategic ways can be done much more efficiently by automated systems. These kinds of innovations are happening in workplaces in every sector, and the potential for making people’s lives easier is enormous.

I, for one, am excited about the possibilities of the digital revolution. Every day, already, I see – and experience – how digital technologies are improving how we do business, allowing us to be ever more globally connected, and ultimately, fulfil our firm’s purpose of building a better working world.

The reality is that the robots are already here. And they’re working for us. If we embrace this disruption rather than fear it, it can transform the way we live, work and relate — and make the world a better, safer, healthier and more efficient place.