Thursday, January 05, 2017

47% of jobs will disappear in the next 25 years according to Oxford University

Having spent some time researching the impact of new technologies on the work we do in the last couple of years, there is much in this article from BigThink that resonates.

We will, no doubt, lose jobs. Others will replace them but not at the same rate as the loss, I suspect.

I believe blue collar workers will fare better. That workforce has always had to adapt and is likely better prepared for change than their white collar counterparts.

Those working in legal services, accountancy, medicine will all see their jobs change drastically as more and more aspects of their jobs are taken over by software. Computers are already better at diagnosing cancer, standard contracts can be dealt with by a virtual lawyer. Even music for adverts can be written effectively by software and much faster and much cheaper than a human musician. So even the creative industries aren't necessarily safe.  Companies are on a constant mission to create efficiencies and to save money so they can create the most value for their shareholders. They wouldn't be doing their job properly if they weren't.

In the short term, robots and software will be colleagues rather than a total replacement and that will present its challenges. What will your relationship be with your robot co-worker, for example? For some this will be a blessing as it means less human interaction. (Many of my friends prefer online shopping for this reason). For others, a curse as they miss having people around them for company. I already have friends who freely admit they have a relationship with Amazon Echo's Alexa and if you haven't watched the film, Her, you should! It is entirely possible to have a relationship with a robot. On my visit to San Francisco last year, I found myself talking to a house robot as if it were a pet cat. Turns out it was Kuri and it has been a hit at this year's CES.

Longer term, the picture probably doesn't look as rosy. Regardless, change is afoot. That means we need to learn adaptability, flexibility and how to share the resources we have without demonising 'the poor' or putting students into debt learning things that will be obsolete by the time they graduate. It's a difficult topic to address as it impacts absolutely everything from what infrastructure we need, how we find meaning in life and what we do with our time. Lots to think about as this future gets ever nearer.