Will Your Job Become Obsolete?

How secure is your job?  Do you run the risk of being replaced by a robot?

Technology and artificial intelligence is evolving by leaps and bounds. Not just annually, but daily, it seems.  Many jobs that were performed by humans have been, or are being, automated.  With the rapidly changing job market, many wonder if the growth of automation heralds a second industrial revolution, except, instead of having labor replaced by machines,  it’s now being replaced by technology.

Automation has moved way beyond manufacturing.  We see automation in everything from the autopilot function in aircraft  to self-driving / self-parking cars. It’s not as if this trend affects only what could be considered ‘technical’ applications.  It’s affecting almost every aspect of life.  Have you used a  McDonald’s self-service order kiosk or a self-service check-in kiosk at the airport?  Or perhaps you’ve acquired a robot vacuum cleaner for your home?  In Japan, robot receptionists and customer service agents are becoming common at large department stores and in offices.  There’s talk of replacing home care workers with robots.

It seems that automation is replacing human effort in the most surprising, and sometimes, alarming ways.  Add this to the growth of the internet of things and it seems there’s literally no limit to what might be automated next.

Although automation is increasing quickly, many of us tend to brush off the idea that there might be critical consequences. It can’t be that bad, can it?

Recent research seems to indicate that a degree of alarm might well be warranted. 

Automation apparently poses a very real threat to global employment, especially for less skilled workers who will bear the brunt of job losses due to automation.  Stephen Hawking, during a 2014 BBC interview, reasoned that the rise of artificial intelligence could mean the end of the human race.

The World Economic Forum released a statement the rise of robots replacing humans would lead to a net loss of over 5 million jobs in 15 major developed and emerging economies by 2020 – which is quickly approaching.

robot-jobThese 5 million lost jobs will be automated and performed  by some type of artificial intelligence developed for that purpose.  On a positive note, there will be a number of new jobs created in highly skilled disciplines such as computing, math, architecture and engineering.  According to Elon Musk, the future of work will lie in I.T., Engineering or Mathematics.
While the huge number of lost jobs may seem offset by the promise of new jobs being created, it does little to mitigate what many see as an apocalyptic scenario where millions of low paid, low skilled people lose their jobs or are unable to get jobs on entering the job market.

To become marketable, low skilled workers would be forced into retraining for high skilled professions.  This is obviously not always an option as training is expensive and many low or no income people would be excluded from this option. For those that could retrain, relocating to larger cities where those skills were in demand would be necessary in order to gain employment.

Without government intervention and assistance, it’s not likely that many of these unfortunate unemployed would have the resources to make the necessary life changes. The social consequences that scenario are frightening.

Even many supposed skilled jobs are in danger.  Earlier we mentioned aircraft auto pilot.  Did you realize that airline pilots only actively pilot their planes for less than 10 minutes per flight? How long before pilots are totally redundant? Think, as well, of the branchless banks that have sprung up over the past few years.   The U.S. financial industry is beginning to implement ‘roboadvice’ as an alternative to employing human financial consultants.  These ‘roboadvisors’ would operate using algorithms providing financial recommendations to clients.

What the research shows:
Citi did a report that concluded:
- 47% of US jobs are at risk
- 35% of UK jobs are at risk
- 57% of OECD jobs are at risk (OECD stands for Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development consisting of 34 democratic country members)
- 77% of Chinese jobs are at risk

job vs automationIf you are curious as to whether your job is at risk, fill in your occupation at this link:http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-34066941 to see the likelihood of being replaced by a robot in the future.

The general consensus by the experts is that jobs that require a human function which is not easily replicated by a robot will be more likely to continue offering employment to humans.  The warning is clear, however, that those hoping to either gain employment or replace current employment should make every effort to become skilled in a specialist field as the majority of jobs in the future will be for skilled applicants only.

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