Are machines stealing our jobs?

Are machines stealing our jobs?

Prior to the US election result that was seriously frightening to laugh disbelievingly at, Donald Trump’s campaign debacle provided a lot of humorous material. Of course, in any other circumstance, I would refer to the ‘Trump administration’ and not Trump personally, but actually, I’m confident that all these promises indeed came directly from the man himself.

Anyway, one of his more outlandish election promises was that he would re-open multiple car factories in the “rust belt” of the US. Thereby giving jobs back to those residential areas that have suffered unemployment for a few decades now.

What Trump clearly didn’t realise though, was that those car manufacturing jobs weren’t taken overseas or “stolen by foreigners”. Nope, they were simply replaced by machines.

Hence the large manufacturing plants closed down some time ago and Americans were out of work.

Trump obviously doesn’t acknowledge this trend; that various machines and tools labeled as Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Intelligence (AI and VI) are now doing the jobs and tasks as they can easily replicate and achieve consistent results. The investment of these tools is a fraction of the cost being spent on wages and other human resources activities.

So, what are the jobs that will likely disappear and what new positions will be created?

The jobs that are easy to replace by technology are those that are simple and repetitive. The jobs and tasks that cannot be replicated are those that require human attributes like empathy, emotion and streetwise aspects. For example, the people operating registers are becoming obsolete. They are easily replaced by machines.

You can now purchase your own items at a supermarket at the “self-serve” registers. Even when one calculates the money lost from the random person stealing biscuits at the self-register, the money saved in wages and damages from theft are quite literally, peanuts! Airports allow passengers to check themselves in, tag and deposit their own bags. Even McDonalds recommends you create your own burger on their large automatic device in-store, and even pay!

If you’re concerned, the excellent website ‘‘ will tell you how likely you are to be replaced by automation. Designers, we’re fine. Fashion Models — you’re doomed!

What about the jobs (as we know them now) that are not easily replaced by machines?

I like to use a medical analogy. I would be happy for machines to carry out my surgery. But I want a person to tell me any bad news.

Why? Well, there is a very limited margin for error with the machines when they perform any given task like surgery. Everything is done exactly the same and in the right order each time.

I’m not interested in taking part in a nice conversation as the surgery proceeds — I’m more concerned that it’s not messed up! However, I cringe when I imagine a machine robotically sharing bad news with me. Everyone has a different reaction to bad and good news, so it would be impossible to program the machine to react to each and every possible scenario.

So where is the happy medium?

Well, there is one, of course, and that is where we ensure our skills are fine-tuned and irreplaceable. This is how our job and the tasks that make up our jobs are machine enhanced not machine replaced.

Machines and artificial intelligence have a lot to offer almost every industry, so it is important they are used where most required. Customers require consistently great experiences, and machines can provide that.

However, humans also demand empathy and mutual understanding for repeat business — only other humans can understand how to provide it.


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