Anticipate Impact of AI, Automation and Robotic’s on Your Future Career Paths

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Hilbert Morales

Many individuals receive an earned diploma at their high school, college or university. Graduation speeches mostly present descriptions of ‘what a bright future lies ahead of each and every graduate.’ What many need to consider is the impact of AI. automation and robotics which have increased productivity using fewer ‘human’ employees. Robots are machines operated by ‘AI programs (Artificial Intelligence). Be assured that not every job can be entirely done by robots which are programmed by ‘coders’ to do repetitive work very efficiently. The S.F. Chronicle on Sunday, May 6, 2017 had a very brief news item communicating that restaurants which use robots to deliver services (e.g., waiting on tables) will be required to pay annual license fees which underwrite the ‘re-training’ of former employees who no longer have jobs and benefits (heath care insurance, retirement program, and personal income). In fact a few ‘think tanks’ are already studying and proposing that every individual receive a GPI (guaranteed personal income) from a government agency (Social Security Administration; Dept. of Health & Human Services…?) in order to sustain America’s consumer economy. In the recent past, economist Milton F0riendman has supported such programs as being more efficient and effective than current Welfare allocation administered by local Social Services Agencies.

“Oxford University researchers have estimated that 47 percent of U.S. jobs could be automated within the next two decades. But which white-collar jobs will robots take first?”

“First, for this article only, “robots” are defined as technologies, such as machine learning algorithms running on (dedicated, single) purpose-built computer platforms to perform tasks that currently require humans to be perform(ed).” With this definition in mind, consider the following ’employment groups’:

1) MIDDLE MANAGEMENT…If the main job function is taking a number from one box in Excel and putting it in another box in Excel and writing a descriptive note about how that number got from place to place, robots are very effective. Any job where one’s “special and unique” knowledge of an industrial process may be applied to divine a causal relationship between numbers in a matrix is going to be repla0ced first. Become very flexible by becoming a multidisciplinary “KNOWLEDGE WORKER”.

2) Commodity Sales Persons (Ad sales, supplies, etc.)

Unless one negotiate using special perks, bribes or other valuable add-ons that have nothing to do with specifications, price and availability, robotic machines can take so much cost out of any sales process (request for proposal, quotation, order and fulfillment system). It is the fiduciary responsibility of CEO’s and board members to invest in robots. A professional would specialize in those  production processes which the robots cannot do (cognitive functions).

3) REPORT WRITERS, JOURNALISTS, AUTHORS & ANNOUNCERS: Writing is tough; Report writing is not. Robotic machines can be taught to read data, pattern match images or video, or analyze almost any kind of research materials and create a very readable (or announceable) writing. Text-to-speech systems are evolving so quickly and sound so realistic, one may expect both play-by-play and color commentators to be put out of work relatively soon – to say nothing about the numbered days of sports or financial writers.

4) ACCOUNTANTS & BOOKKEEPERS: Data processing and AI machine learning–based accountants and bookkeepers will be so much better than their human counterparts. Robo-accounting is awesome at dealing with accounts payable and receivable, inventory control, auditing and several other accounting functions that humans used to be needed to do. Very soon, Big Four auditing is in for a big shake-up.

5) DOCTORS: May be one of the only guaranteed positive outcomes of robots’ taking (over) human jobs. The current world population is 7.3 billion (2017); it is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030; 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100 per a United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) report. In practice, if everyone who ever wanted to be a doctor became one, we still would not have enough doctors.

The good news is that robots make amazing diagnosticians and surgeons. According to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, IBM’s Watson is teaming up with a dozen US hospitals to offer advice on the best treatments for a range of cancers, and also helping to spot early-stage skin cancers. And ultra-precise robo-surgeons are currently used for everything from knee replacement surgery to vision correction. If ‘warm and fuzzy’ human relationships are desired, these will continue to be provided by ‘human M.D.’s. Robodoc’s are machines.This trend is continuing at an incredible pace.”

All jobs may be analyzed to determine how much may be performed by robotic algorithms.

A report released by the Obama Administration included a very dire prediction: “There is an 83% chance that workers who earn $20/hr or less could have their jobs taken over by robots in the next five years. Those in the $40/hr pay range face a 31% chance of having their jobs taken over by these machines.” Clearly, the robots are coming.

What may one do about robotics? “First, technological progress is neither good nor bad; it just is…The good news is knowing what’s coming. Think about preparation for adaptation. All must prepare for evolving ‘man-machine’ partnerships by becoming ‘multi-disciplinary’.

Adapting requires understanding how man-machine partnerships are going to evolve. This is tricky, but not impossible.  Knowing that machine learning (AI) is going to be used to automate many, if not most, low-level cognitive tasks, gives all a chance to prepare. Our goal is to use our high-level cognitive ability to anticipate what parts of our work will be fully automated and what parts will be so hard for machines to do that man-machine partnership is the most practical approach.

With that strategy, one can work on adapting our mindset and skills to become better than our peers at leveraging man-machine relationships. Humans have always been tool-users; now one will be partners with ‘our robot’ on the job site.”

Becoming a great man-machine partner team will not save every job, but it is a clear pathway to prolonging your current career (path) while you figure out what your job must evolve into in order to continue to transfer the value of your personal intellectual property as a ‘knowledge worker’ into your personal wealth and well-being. So do anticipate the impact of automation and robotic’s on your future career journey. Some proactive planning will ensure satisfying fulfillment.

Source: “AI: 5 Things Every CEO Should Know”, Shelly Palmer, Strategic Advisors, May 7, 2017