As we continue to explore and reach new frontiers in human evolution, we're steadily being engulfed with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Automation in all walks of our lives – Our cars have begun to drive themselves; bots and algorithms are writing our news reports; and artificially–intelligent financial softwares are reading trends and predicting our future market moves…
At this juncture; or as futurist Maurice Conti refers to this as ‘The Augmented Age’ - We cannot help but ask the inevitable question; that constantly probes our curious minds – Are we being displaced by machines?
- As per McKinsey, between 400 million and 800 million people could be displaced by automation by the year 2030!
- An Oxford University study has concluded that almost half of all U.S. jobs will be “susceptible to computerization” in the next ten to twenty years.
- Stanford University academic Jerry Kaplan says in his book (Humans need not apply)
“Automation is blind to the colour of your collar” and proves that Lawyers are under threat from losing their jobs to automation.
And if you’re betting your chances on the jobs that require unique and ‘second-to-none’ capability of human intelligence, to be able to think intuitively and make informed decisions – take Google’s Deepmind AlphaGo which beat top human player at ‘go’ (the most difficult game with more possible moves than there are atoms in the universe).
AI: 2, Humanity: 0
Pic Courtesy: Washington Post
It’s believed that AlphaGo actually proved its cognitive capability to ‘think’ like humans; because to win the game ‘intuition’ was key, rather than just ‘logical reasoning’.
How about skills that require much ‘care’ and dexterity? That space is also being explored by robotic arms, like the one tested by Ocado, the British online supermarket.
The SoMa, robot arm with its soft, nimble fingers can stretch out to delicately pluck fruit from shelves and gently place it into baskets – a skill which formerly required human warehouse workers to handle produce safely:
Automation, as we know it is not a new phenomenon. The industrial revolution brought massive shifts in factories when automatic looms and other machines replaced human weavers.
The shifts we’re experiencing today are even greater – as Jerry Kaplan points out, The AI Revolution is not only affecting blue collar workers; but in fact workers with collars of every known colours – from artists, musicians, writers, combatants, analysts, and so forth…
Chasing Dead-End JOBS?
A report by The Foundation for Young Australians says 60% of Australian students are training for jobs that will be non-existent in the future or will most likely be transformed by automation.
That means most of them will be changing careers five times over their working lives.
Now, the catch here is; the jobs will not entirely vanish – but they're most likely to be exposed to automation. Meaning, the jobs will be redefined and will require a new set of skills to perform. But from the workers’ perspective; between ‘disappearance of jobs’ & ‘jobs radically redefined’ is pretty much the same!
As per the futurist and author of ‘Rise of the Robots’, Martin Ford; the professions that are at high risks are the ones which are on some level, ROUTINE, REPETITIVE & PREDICTABLE.
Jobs such as ‘Telemarketing’ which is a routine work has higher chances of being automated, says The Future Of Employment Report. We’re already witnessing an increase in automated 'robocalls' in these industries.
Take something like ‘Tax Preparation’ – That’s clearly a profession which requires systematically processing of large amounts of predictable data. One emerging example is that of H&R Block, a big name in Tax preparation providers; which is already using Watson, IBM’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform to offer tax services.
Similarly, take the report from Deloitte; which says ‘more than 100,000 jobs in the legal sector have a high chance of being automated within the next 20 years; as it is easy to take over careers such as paralegals and legal assistants, which consists of more repetitive tasks.
And of course, Fast Food chains could be the next easy target – Take for instance the robot like Flippy, an AI-powered kitchen assistant that’s already flipping burgers in a number of Caliburger outlets.
‘Future-Proofing’ Your CAREERS
First let's jump right into careers that are still far-off from the clutches of AI or a robotic arm. Anything that requires genuine ‘creativity’ still seems to be a career on the list – but may be not so in the next 20 years.
Careers of an artist, a scientist, a chef, musician or someone developing new business strategies is definitely on the menu; but you cannot be too sure – because we already have computers that can paint original works of art.
Artworks created by Creative Adversarial Networks (CAN) artificial intelligence. Courtesy of the Art and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Rutgers University.
Other professions that are less susceptible to automation are the ones that require the ‘Human Touch’ – A robot can never deliver the care, love and empathy that a health worker can give to his patients. Professionals like a masseur, beautician, nurses, personal fitness trainers also fall under these categories.
Next up are the ones involved in cyber-security. Paul Haskell-Dowland, an Associate Professor at Perth’s Edith Cowan University stresses on the fact that - As we are advancing into a more automated world surrounded by a plethora of Internet of Things (IoT) enabling a highly ‘connected’ lives online – there will always be a need for cyber defense at some level.
But even cyber security as we see now, will change in the way it behaves and evolves, hence requiring a different set of skills altogether.
The golden rule of thumb for all of us here is –the only way we can ‘future-proof’ our career is to adapt, evolve and accept change as the new ‘normal’. The faster we become fluent with new technology, build a ‘growth-driven’ and learning mindset; and not to mention keep abreast with and tap our unique ‘human’ skills – we can always future-proof our skills and careers.
To Sum It Up…
If you’d like to know whether a robot or an AI an actually do your job, hop on to this site to find out. But no matter where you are in your career, automation and AI will without a doubt impact every aspect of our societal and personal lives. The goal is to develop the necessary skills and acumen to hand-in-hand with our ‘augmented’ future with never losing the essence of our ‘human’ roots!
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