The Threat Of Automation: Impending Doom Or Challenge?

Automation And Jobs

When the first industrial revolution hit the market, it had a deep impact on people’s lives in England and later across the world. Mechanization powered by steam displaced workers from their traditional livelihoods leading to mass unemployment and eventual migration to the new industrial cities coming up in Manchester and Bristol. The utterly cramped neighborhoods in these cities till date stand witness to the magnitude of unemployment and displacement caused by the first industrial revolution. 

Now, as we move towards another revolution powered by automation and artificial intelligence, the horrors of the past force us to raise major concerns. It is estimated that soon robots will be able to perform even major medical surgeries with the utmost precision. Even the most valued jobs that require high amount of skillset would be easily replaced by AI. Hence, we’re not looking at a future with scarcity of jobs, rather at a future with the scarcity of professions where humans will be required to complete the task. 

However, preparing for a future sometimes has a lot to do with asking the right questions. We can either ask what all professions could lose relevance in the upcoming future, or try to figure out a future with machines aiding our work and allowing us to explore higher levels of cognitive development. The idea is to not see jobs as a closed set of seats where the more machines occupy, the lesser humans have for them and rather see it as an opportunity for augmentation of human qualities that makes us distinct from machines. 

Those looking towards methods of embracing automation have come up with five paths to employability that you could follow to remain employed in the upcoming future and prepare for it- 

Step-up – This is meant for those who have higher education and aspire to have a senior management role. These people have a T-shaped personality, meaning they can have a deep knowledge on a subject as well as a broad knowledge base about everything else. This enables them to have new ideas across disciplines, a valuable asset. 

Step aside – This is meant for those who might not excel at academics but have excellent interpersonal and people skills. You would benefit from stepping aside from conventional roles and find your own forte by tapping into multiple intelligences rather than just one specialisation. A machine could never become a comedian and here’s where you step in.

Step-in – Computers can and will replace you from most jobs, but they will lack some very essential qualities that are a part of the job. For example, emotions like empathy. Here’s where you step in and build a mutually beneficial relationship with computers where you enhance each-other’s work. For this you’ll need to work on skills that cannot be codified.

Step narrowly – A stealth move of sorts this approach asks you to look for loopholes in automation. Automation might not be financially viable or feasible for many jobs. Once you’ve figured that one job from your field of expertise that could cost more to automate than the revenue it generates, you can turn it into your own playing ground.

Step forward – Going to be one of the most in-demand job profiles of the future, it deals with working with the AI and automation and further developing it. As much as computers can do, the control of how far to take them and what innovation to bring in next will lie with humans. If you love technology, have a futuristic mind-view and innovation is your forte, this is for you, to step forward and and lead the world in technology. 

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