In this series of posts we uncover the future of robotics and automation, assessing the likely impact of technology on how we work.
Artificial intelligence experts mostly agree that in the humans versus robots battle, anyone with a routine job is at risk of losing to a robot (or software) sometime in the near-enough future – and therefore it’s worth upskilling as soon as possible.
Let’s look at some of the jobs predicted to go robotic:
|Boston Consulting Group|
|International Federation of Robotics|
|Bank of America|
|(US) National Bureau of Economic Research|
The direst warnings have come from an expert on artificial intelligence called Moshe Vardi. Vardi claims that machines could put half the world’s working population out of a job in the next 30 years and cautions:
“We are approaching a time when machines will be able to outperform humans at almost any task. I believe that society needs to confront this question before it is upon us: if machines are capable of doing almost any work humans can do, what will humans do?”
Tesla’s Elon Musk is also concerned about artificial intelligence. So much so, that he’s invested in a few AI businesses just so he can keep an eye on where the research is going. A few years ago at the AeroAstro Centennial Symposium Musk declared that AI could be end of the human race, Terminator-style:
“With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon. In all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like, yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon. Doesn’t work out.”
Fortunately plenty of other bright minds can foresee a reasonable future for humans – provided we use more of the talents that make us human.
Should you be really worried about losing your job to a machine?
If you’re really worried a robot will steal your job then it could be time to rethink your career.
Though if you just suspect a machine (or software) can do a task better than you, then try to get hold of that technology and put it to work on that task. Study its ways… and work out how you can do it better, or better yet, what you can do instead.
Because the best way to stay ahead of the machines is still pretty much the same as it has been since the Industrial Revolution: do what they do better, with a human touch – or just do something they can’t.
We’ve known this since smart thinkers, like the Luddites, first challenged the rise of the machines a few hundred years ago. And every generation has had to deal with it. (Incidentally, the Luddites are often misrepresented as being anti-technology. But really they were arguing that bosses should invest in machines that help skilled and fairly-paid humans produce high-quality goods, not simply replace skilled labour with less skilled labour using dumb machines to cheaply churn out average-quality goods.)
On the upside, plenty of tedious tasks have been automated, or at least outsourced to machines thus freeing up humans to do something more valuable. Humans have been rather good at inventing new kinds of work over the ages, after all.
So the question now is: what do you work on that really matters to you?
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