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The Self-Driving Network™: What will we do with the “Leisure Dividend”?

by Juniper Employee ‎03-14-2017 05:41 AM - edited ‎03-15-2017 06:45 AM

This is part IV in our multi-part blog series on the Self-Driving Network™. Find part III here. And learn much more about the Self-Driving Network from the just released part 2 of our vision paper, The Self-Driving Network: Appetite for Disruption

 

What does the future of artificial intelligence look like? Stanford University recently invited leading thinkers to begin a 100-year effort to study and anticipate how the effects of artificial intelligence will ripple through every aspect of how people work, live and play. My sense is that if a topic requires a 100-year study, then that means there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty and anxiety surrounding that topic.

 

So, is the future Skynet and The Terminator?

 

Bad robot.jpg

 

But even for many observers who are not quite as apocalyptic, artificial intelligence still means a future of mass unemployment and widening inequality. On the other end of the spectrum, we’re sitting on a beach drinking a Mai Tai, or we’re George Jetson being served by Rosie the Robot.

 

Jetson.jpg

 

Perhaps the future lies somewhere in between.

 

The “leisure dividend” refers to the freedom we get as technology performs mundane tasks for us, although that freedom could be consumed by other work, rather than leisure. What does this mean for IT and telecom? Engineers and technicians currently bogged down in the many tedious aspects of running networks will be freed up to focus on higher-level, strategic activities. Yes, some jobs will disappear, but many others will evolve, and new jobs will be created. But for companies in our industry to fully realize the benefits of automation, machine learning, and intent-driven systems, they must transform their organizations, their culture, their processes, and the skill sets of their people.

 

Over time, network know-how will slowly move from relatively static operations to programming and machine learning. Ultimately, in a self-driving world the network experts will provide oversight and algorithmic tweaking. Some will shift to service design roles as the network essentially “gets out of the way.” And of course the robots need to be managed and trained. If the new intern is a robot, then they need to be trained just like your intern today – and she’s not taking over your job anytime soon, right? In fact, she helps you out a lot and makes your life easier if you train her and effectively manage her.

 

Skills transformation in the networking industry is already underway. SDN, which has exposed the physical infrastructure to be programmed through APIs, has been a wake-up call to network engineers and system administrators who have not previously needed programming skills to perform their jobs. Network operators are slowly embracing DevOps, the confluence of roles and responsibilities among network operations, IT, and software development, to speed up the creation and deployment of services

 

Too many people in our industry are fearful of automation and the “robots taking our jobs.” Elon Musk has warned that “with artificial intelligence, we’re summoning the demon,” but we view the future much more optimistically. In the past technology has always ended up creating more jobs than it destroys. While many speak of artificial intelligence, we prefer to think in terms of augmented intelligence. So, maybe the future is different and better than today, but neither of the extremes mentioned above.

 

Augmented Intelligence.jpg

 

When networks are better defended from threats, more reliable and resilient, and easier to manage, the network becomes an even bigger part of our lives. The industry wins. And maybe we do get a leisure dividend out of this. The person who runs your network doesn’t get any more 3AM calls. That’s not such a bad thing.

 

For more information about the Self-Driving Network read our recent Insights article and visit our landing page.

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About the Author
  • Ben has been working with service providers around the world for the last 15 years developing business cases for a variety of product concepts and new ventures. Ben holds an MBA from MIT and a BS & MS in Mechanical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.
  • Part of Juniper PS EMEA since 2005 Primarily interested in making technology do the boring repetitive work so I can do fun new work.
  • Donyel Jones-Williams is the Director of Service Provider Product Marketing Management overseeing all of Juniper's Service Provider Products for Juniper Networks. In this role, he leads all of the internal and external marketing activities for Juniper with respect to routing, automation, SDN and NFV. Prior to joining Juniper Networks in January 2014, Donyel was a Senior Product Line Manager for Cisco Systems with in the High End Optical Routing Group managing product lifecycle for multiple products lines helping telecom providers operate efficiently and effectively including; ONS 155xx Product Family, ONS 15216, ONS 15454 MSTP, Carrier Packet Transport Product Family, ME 2600x, & ASR 9000v. He also negotiated favorable agreements with 3rd-party vendors furnishing components and parts and conducted both outbound and inbound marketing (webinars, case study-development, developed and delivered both business & technical at Cisco Live 2005-2012). Donyel graduated from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. While attending Cal Poly SLO he was a collegiate student athlete playing football as a wide receiver and a key member of the National Society of Black Engineers. Donyel is now an active volunteer for V Foundation.
  • Dwayne loves everything related to automation and enjoys talking about it: Automation benefits outweigh any associated disruption.
  • Ebben Aries is a Principal Engineer for Junos Manageability in the Juniper Development and Innovation Division.
  • Marcel Wiget is a member of the Routing TME team. His career within Juniper started back in 2009 as a Senior Systems Engineer driving one of the first MX based Broadband Edge deployment to success. Prior to Juniper, Marcel held various positions in pre-sales, professional services and development at Chantry Networks, Spring Tide, Nortel Networks and Wellfleet.
  • Michael Pergament, JNCIE-SP #510, JNCIE-ENT #23, JNCIP-SEC
  • Pallavi Mahajan is Vice President Engineering, Junos Engineering, and leads the Junos Programmability & Automation teams
  • Product Manager, JUNOS Automation