Updated: Will Automation Kill Jobs? My Take

Lately I have been asked the same question. “Will a robot replace my job?” The answer has to range from “sort of” to “definitely” or “not for some time”. I know there are a lot of people who are worried about their jobs in the future. With the increasing dependance on automation, I thought I would take the time to answer that question.

Rise of the Machines

A while back, I saw the movie LOGAN and without spoiling anything, it does take place in the future. One of the things I saw was the massive trucks in the movie were automated. Now this made me think of my Uncle because he is a truck driver. I asked him what he thought about trucks going fully automated. To sum up what he said “it won’t be in my lifetime but maybe my sons lifetime”. Thinking about that conversation and thinking about what Bill Gates said about the “Robot Tax“, I can kind of see where Bill Gates is getting his idea from. If we replaced all the Truck drivers with automated trucks we will need to help out that generation we put out of business and help migrate them to other jobs.

But this will also effect the auto industry greatly, cars will be built by robots, hell even marketing agencies will be replaced by robots. Now before you freak out I do have to remind you, that this won’t happen for some time. There will need to a great many things addressed before people’s jobs are phased away. For example with truck drivers, in the movie Logan, some people lose their horses because the trucks don’t stop, and Logan is nearly hit by a truck. This makes me think, do we need human automators behind the wheels? Watching their fleet because of situations like this?

We can’t go full automated without a human coach watching. Since there are factors you have to address with Trucks, there may be conditions where the driver might need to step in and make the choice that a computer might not be able to make. These examples are what many people bring forward when it comes to automatic cars. While many people might be scared of it, I do believe in some way there will still be “truck drivers” but it will evolve from driving to more monitoring a fleet like air traffic controllers because what if the truck loses signal with its GPS. What if there is a storm coming? Or something that blocks the road how will it know to obey the police? These are the things that will need to be taken into account when certain fields become automated.


By Your Command

Another interesting story which I pointed to earlier is about a company Cosabella, who was unhappy with their ad agency and hired an AI to help with growing their platform. In the first month it increased its return by 50% and decreased spending by 12%. Now think about that, the agency was replaced with an AI. No more human emotion, no more guessing, just the data being analyzed by an AI and figuring out how and when to target your brand. What made this quite interesting and kind of scary is that the AI will work on holidays. Need someone on Black Friday? boom done. Christmas? Yup still going. Now I bet you are wondering, is it cheaper than a regular agency? Nope about the same cost but yet the return is greater.

Replicants are like any other machine – they are either a benefit or a hazard. If they are a benefit, it’s not my problem. – Deckard

I will point out that it does make me nervous about data analytics jobs being replaced by AI’s. Now where could it go from here? Maybe replacing web jobs. I could see an AI being able to help develop your brand and website and helping push the best description after reading or analyzing your product. This however is in its infancy and will need to be developed further. So possibly this could become a reality in the next 10 to 30 years. I believe agencies will evolve into something else just like my truck driver theory. Jobs will evolve, and markets will evolve. Agencies could become an AI development ground which helps build AI platforms to achieve maximum efficiency with certain brands or types of data.

The Second Renaissance

What we will need to address with moving forward into this automation age is what will happen to people. Watching the show The Expanse, there are references about how no one on earth works due to the fact it is all automated. We will need to address this while we build our future. Take for example, we use to have elevator operator jobs but that has been replaced by a button. Phone operators were replaced by machines. Now even places like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video were replaced by Netflix just a few short years ago.

Now what we do see sometimes is that companies do replace their workers and will just forget about them. I think this will need to be addressed with moving forward into a more automated future. Workers will need to be evolved into the next stage of this new Renaissance. For example, imagine the mine workers going from working in the mines to programming the robots that go into them or being the managers that help the AI learn.

The more we press forward, which will happen, we will need to address the human element that comes with becoming more dependent on technology. Jobs can and will fade away eventually, but it will open the door on the evolved jobs. People will probably be wary of going forward. Being someone that works in technology, I saw how the web evolved from just HTML and CSS, to Javascript, to PHP, to JQuery, to React, to Ruby, to Python, and so on and so forth. We will have to evolve and keep evolving if we are to keep up with this new age of automation and help support those who need help coming into it as well.

What other jobs could become obsolete in the future? Well it could be anything such as politicians, lawyers, taxi drivers, front desk clerks, data analysts, stock brokers, baristas, aviators, soldiers. Who knows where automation could go next, it is always something that surprises me when I read a story and people are building automation for something new.

In A Nutshell

One of my favorite youtube channels called “Kurzgesagt” which translates to In A Nutshell created a part one of a video series about what is going on with automation and the future we are seeing. It also compares what happened in the past to what is happening now. If you haven’t heard of this series or seen any of their videos I would suggest subscribing to them cause they are not just education but fun to watch. Also be sure to donate to their Patreon page and help keep this series going.

In Conclusion…

The future is always evolving, technology will evolve and jobs will evolve. I do think there will be people who will be nervous. However, as long as the human element is not ignored, we can help keep things moving in a smooth pace. Do I believe in a robot tax? Yes because we will need to remember that even if people do get their jobs taken by a robot these people will still need help moving onto the next job. I do worry about the blue collar workers that might be worried they might lose their job indefinitely due to automation, but I also worry about the white collar worker as well when automation comes for their job. Hopefully as we evolve we remember to evolve everything with us.

see you space cowboy…