Is a machine going to take my job? (Part 2)

by 10 April, 2017 0

… continued

As discussed in Part 1 of this article, there are jobs which benefit from automation and as a result there will be fewer of those particular jobs. There are still many jobs where, theoretically, they can be performed better by machines but where the important emotional human component will override the pure economics of the automation analysis. We are often unaware of our responses, as human beings, to the social cues which we receive from our interaction with other human beings. A smile makes us feel valued. The age and appearance of a person advising us makes us feel secure. The uniform the person is wearing gives us a sense of trust. Can you negotiate with a machine? More importantly, do you want to negotiation with a machine? My guess is not.

Equally, there are jobs which can never be outsourced because they require a physical presence, not virtual, to be performed. We need to gear the education system and skills learning to jobs which are in demand and where human interaction cannot be replaced. Teachers, nurses, doctors and others where an emotional component plays a role are not going to be automated. Some more manual jobs such as electrician, plumber, carpenter are also not going to be completely replaced. These jobs will have some elements of the work replaced but the less routine components, including the human interaction, will not. Taking carpenters as an example, the construction of roof frames and staircases has been done in factories for a very long time (including by machines) and then the final installation is done on site by a human.

To put this into perspective only about 5% of occupations today could be automated but 45% of the activities performed in these occupations could be automated.

What this means is that there will be fewer jobs in certain occupations based on the level to which they can be automated. We need to prepare both the current generation of workers and those in the education system looking forward to a life of employment to gear their education and training towards upping their skills in the areas where their creativity, judgement and personal skills can be best used.

We need less time spent on rhetoric and more time spent on shaping the future workforce and finding ways to mediate the interactions between humans and machines in the workplace. Personally, I will always prefer my food to be served in a restaurant by a smiling human rather than a robot!