Use It or Lose It: Technology and AI Making You Obsolete?

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The sooner we come to terms that we can’t compete with machines over high volume, high-frequency tasks, and repetitive jobs, the sooner we can prepare for, wage, and win a guerilla-waged war over disruptive technology that threatens jobs – yours and mine, included. Unlike in the Industrial age where machines took over blue-collar workers performing automated tasks, today’s technology, far advanced than anyone could have ever imagined has exploded to an extent where even white collar jobs are encroached upon.

Already, many niches are feeling the pinch, even as the likes of Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet have the supreme faith that humans will prevail. Even though the fictional “Skynet” is still far away, it is an undeniable fact that AI and robots have progressed so much over the last ten years changing the picture of work in the near future. We think nothing of talking to Siri or Alexa, give chatbots privileged information, and allow self-driving cars to bring us safely to our destination. Currently, IBM’s Watson Explorer is equipped with “technology that can think like a human…it can analyze and interpret all data including unstructured text, images, audio, and video.”

The jobs of tomorrow where as much as 45% of current jobs could disappear in the next ten years should be seen in the light of current trends that force corporations to work differently like:

  • AI, Big Data, IoT, VR, Collaboration Platforms, Cloud Computing, Machine-Learning, Mobile Teams
  • exponential organizations that require less but better-skilled, tech-savvy employees
  • changing skillsets like coding, testing, and technical marketing
  • globalization and mobility allowing diverse and geographically separated teams to work together in real time
  • the rise of start-ups that leverage technology manned by digital natives: the Millennials and
  • changing business behavior as far as researching, data-mining, communicating and collaborating are concerned.

“In 1990 GM and Chrysler, brought in $36B in revenue and hired over a million workers. Now the Big Three are Apple, Facebook and Google and they bring in over a Trillion dollars in revenue but they have only 137,000 workers.” — Kim Komando

But there is an aspect where humans excel over machines. While machines have to learn from volumes of data, humans do not require that for higher-order thinking – even in novel situations. To predict whether a job can eventually be automated rests on whether the tasks performed or problems solved can be reduced to repetitive ones. That being said, we see jobs involving transcription, encoding, customer service, paralegal services, translation, retail services pretty much on the brink of extinction. In fact, when you go online to chat regarding customer issues, it’s pretty hard to tell if you are talking to a chatbot or to a live person. To be fair, even writers and editors are also technology-assisted but not at the precipice, at least not yet – saved perhaps by the value of quick ferreting of information, integrating data, and drawing conclusions from the perspective of human mind and emotions. We still see humans mapping out strategies, running campaigns, diagnosing rare diseases and interpreting complex taxation or legalities.
Technology has indeed enabled us to work differently – more engaged and productive. For as long as we stay ahead, we get to rule machines. It is perhaps the very same scenario that has not made bank workers obsolete despite the ubiquity of ATMs. In fact, Elon Musk has turned to humans to meet the production demands of Tesla 3. With the ongoing war for talent, you get the upper hand if you continuously train and evolve to stay relevant. What are the must-have “know-how” for the imminent future? Talking tech is not just savvy; it also assures your job survival. Embrace change by training to be functional (as opposed to just a kibitzer) in coding, API, behavioral psychology, user experience and the like. You don’t have to be a millennial to compete in their turf; you just need to be in tune with anything and everything digital. In today’s jungle, curiosity doesn’t kill the cat – it makes him the Lion King!