Will a robot take my job? Not if I’m creative!

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I just love this calculator by Oxford University and Deloitte. Their overall research shows that 35% of jobs in the UK are at risk of automation in the next 20 years.

Research from McKinsey looked at work activities (not specific jobs) and they found that 45% of work activities in the U.S. economy could be automated, and if the technologies that process and “understand” natural language were to reach the median level of human performance, it would be an additional 13%.

So I searched the following jobs in the calculator:

  • Sales and Marketing Director – 1% chance of automation (phew…)
  • Software programmer – 8%
  • Chartered Accountant – 95% (yikes)
  • Financial Accounts manager – 97% (there goes the Finance team)
  • Advertising & PR director – 3%
  • HR Director or manager – 32%
  • Plumber – 49%
  • Hairdresser – 33%
  • Bank or post office clerk – 97%
  • IT professional -22%
  • Nurse – 1%
  • Sales operations and admin – 97% (who will do my reports)

The jobs with the least risk of automation are those that require EMPATHY, CREATIVITY, SOCIAL INTELLIGENCE 

However, even these jobs will be impacted by automation — or should I say, improved by automation (McKinsey research shows that about 60% of jobs will have about 30% of their activities automated). So any routine work will be taken care of, freeing up time to be even more creative, connect more deeply to people, create meaning, to be more effective at influencing.

Imagine that! Just to repeat … Imagine a time in the not too distant future where:

Any routine work will be taken care of, freeing up time to be more creative, connect more deeply to people, and create meaning to be more effective at influencing

Bring in the Robots

There is much that governments need to do to prepare their people, economies and societies for this future, to address the otherwise obvious economic inequality of those being displaced, particularly the automation of white-collar work, to ensure there is still a vibrant and healthy global economic future.

Of course we are not just talking about Robots per say, but automated processes, artificial intelligence and digital workers.

Where do you start? Banking and Insurance industries are probably ahead of the pack, having already off-shored, then automated many business processes, using Digital Workers. They are now looking at front-office sales and customer service solutions. Heavy machinery and capital intensive industries have also started with remote operations centres, driverless trucks.

As Internet of Things Platforms (connecting sensors to networks, to computing systems), and Artificial Intelligence Platforms (analysing data, predicting and then acting) continue to grow in adoption across business and government, it will be important to not forget about up-skilling people who are displaced, so they retain relevance and gain fluency in the new economy. Whilst personally I believe you are either born with high EQ (Emotional Intelligence) or you are not, we can train and teach people to be more agile, creative, outside-the-box thinkers and human-centric (see my previous blog Learning to Sprint ) which are key skills for the future.

People need to be really good at the tasks and activities that Robots can’t (at least, not in the near future) do.

My wishful thinking is that this leads to living lives less dull and with more meaning.

How does your job fare in the calculator? How will you prepare to stay relevant in the years to come?


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  1. Rao Dronamraju says:

    AI and Robotics can and will replace some jobs but they are also woefully inadequate in replacing even the most mundane and easy jobs that human beings do. It is lot easy for AI software to replace jobs with not a lot of complex thinking. But the place where i have seen the serious limitations for machines to replace human beings is when they need to cross over from digital to physical world. For instance, even a simple task like folding clothes that are washed and dried in a washer dryer is a very difficult task for a machine.If the apparel is different than what the machine has learnt to expect it will not be a able to fold the apparel. So i think some jobs AI and Robots can do much better than human being like prescribing medication based on symptoms of a patient or data analysis and coming up with inference which are all within the bounds of digital world is easy. But once you cross over into the real world and start doing physical work, it is a totally different ball game for machines. In fact that is the reason even Google has not been successful with Boston Dynamics which it is selling now.

  2. Although the jobs that require creativity are safe for now, they will eventually be taken over by robots. It won’t happen suddenly, but gradually, task by task. We should never underestimate the fact that humans are building the robots and while creativity could not be a straight path, logic could be made out of any and every task. If you haven’t already heard about Emily Howell, you could actually google her and listen to the music she has been creating. So it’s only a matter of time till these robots get better by interacting more with humans. As for the preparation part, here’s something that could help: http://navigus.in/blog/robots-are-killing-your-jobs/

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