The risk of AI and Automation

As humans, we value the personal touch. A cake decorated by hand, a face to face medical appointment instead of consulting ‘Dr Google’ and spiralling into a blind panic after self diagnosing..

Many professions from midwifery to Hair stylists simply cannot be automated. Yet. But what about those that can? Are our technical advances also making us replaceable by the very technology we created? The Google ‘driverless car’ is just one example of how even the simplest of tasks may one day be automated as the norm.

In 2014 Oxford University conducted a study around which professions were most at risk of becoming automated. Topping the list were telemarketers, seamstresses, data entry keyers and insurance underwriters.

Those least likely to become automated were medical professions in various fields, choreographers and primary school teachers.

What can we learn from this list? Will we all be replaced by robots in 50 years? Not exactly. But perhaps the way in which we work will change.

Topping the list are task-based jobs with repetitive activity. Telemarketing could be a thing of the past, perhaps this will be replaced by an alternative form of sales whilst technology takes over data entry and admin tasks?

Data scientists are one of the most in-demand professionals yet with artificial intelligence, computers and becoming more able to independently input data.

There are also correlations between the jobs at the bottom of the list. Those with empathy, essential human contact and where artistic or advanced skills are needed (such as a surgeon) were at least risk of becoming automated.

This all points to a real change in the way we work. The automotive industry for example, has more people employed than ever. However many of the manual tasks such as spraying and assembly are now completed by robots. Should we be worried about a drop In the number of jobs due to a robotic takeover??

Not necessarily. A study by Deloitte in 2018 found that although Artificial intelligence eliminated 800,000 jobs, they have created 3.5 million new ones.

So whether you’re a company owner, people manager or an employee, it would be prudent to embrace technology and begin to learn the new skills that will help us all survive and thrive in a modern world.

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Oliver Gearing

3rd February

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