Good morning, America… or is it? CEO Andrew Anagnost kicks off Autodesk University with thoughts of an overcrowded earth and the impending loss of jobs. Not yours, though -- if you pay attention. (Picture from Autodesk video of AU2017)
Autodesk University, named for the classes it offers, is where 10,500 of Autodesk’s faithful have converged, crowded into the Sands convention center in Las Vegas, waiting for the show to begin. It may be record attendance. Strange when you consider the city’s biggest attractions seem to be gambling, drinking and prostitution. Only a few weeks ago, a shooter in the Mandalay Bay hotel rained bullets from on high, like the angel of death, over a music concert across the street -- the worst mass shooting in US history.
We're here in spite of that. The show must go on. It’s 10AM Tuesday morning and it is about to go down. A deejay charges the atmosphere with electronic music. The crowd is pumped. The new CEO, Andrew Anagnost, addresses the crowd.
“Good morning,” says Andrew. But immediately he questions himself. “Or is it?”
Andrew won’t mention the massacre specifically – but he will take the take the gloom that hangs over Las Vegas and apply it to the world at large. It is a world of robots taking your jobs, of a crumbling infrastructure, an unrestrained population. We’re projected to have 10 billion people by 2050 (it has 7.5 billion now). Infrastructure is crumbling.
“While we are having parties, were we dangling our feet over the chasm of job destruction?” He is talking about the upcoming robot revolution.
The new CEO is obviously not afraid of shocking a crowd to its senses. This is not like previous Autodesk Universities. The crowd is hushed.
It was Andrew’s wake up call to the Autodesk faithful. He was going to build on that, deliver his view of the world, provide solutions, build hope…
But we’re going to need to recover. The message just delivered weighs heavy. It is a reminder of our anxieties. Users all feel the pressure of trying to keep up and a fear of falling behind. AU is their chance to reenergize, to jump ahead into the lead, once again. Take a bunch of classes, taught by the best instructors, get certified, fill up with the latest software and technology, and emerge once again: top dog.
Too Many People? We Can Help with That
Not a cause for alarm -- an opportunity. Autodesk, the design, simulation and manufacturing software vendor that refers to itself as an "automation company,” suggests its products can help house, move and improve the lives of the billions we will be adding to the Earth over the next couple of decades.
After the crowd is properly subdued comes the message of hope. To house the billions yet to come, we’re going to have to build a thousand buildings a day. Software applications can be automated the design process. The current AEC process is flawed, full of one-off designs, painstakingly and wastefully built on site, outdoors. Why can’t they learn from what manufacturing has known for years? Bring it inside, use robots, automate the sh*t out of it.
We see an architect using generative design, able to make customized living arrangements, using pre-built walls.
The Dutch firm Van Wijnen hunkered down during the recession, armed themselves with the latest tools and technology, then jumped back in with digital workflow. It serves as an example of what companies can do when they make the jump, catching the next wave of technology.
The waves that are coming with increasing frequency. You might be afraid the wave will take you under…and it might. But let’s look that the bigger picture, Autodesk is telling us.
ATMs Make for More Tellers
The ATM machine, first introduced in 1967, was going to get rid of bank tellers. It didn’t. In the 20 years after 1995, when ATM machines quadrupled to 400,000, the number of bank tellers actually increased. Why? Automation let banks do more with less, the banks thrived, opened more branches. So, more tellers.
Publishing: Andrew acknowledges many journalists are wondering about their future. Everybody can publish now, The amount of written material online has skyrocketed. The technology has actually made more of us into content creators.
Movies, instead of a few movies at a $100 million each, there are countless movies and video by independents. There has never been more to watch. And more of us are watching. The market has expanded.
Manufacturing, if you think robots are going to cost jobs, you’re wrong. Technology makes more jobs. Robots need people to take care of them. “China will have a shortage of 3 million skilled robot operators.”
“Autodesk is not only going to help you survive it, we’re going to help you thrive in it.”