NEW SKILLS REQUIRED BY HUMANS DUE TO AUTOMATION
What we had seen in science fiction films and serials a few years back are no more exciting fantasies of a child but are going to be a part of the present-day output from robots, artificial intelligence, and driverless cars. Will this machine technology make human workers obsolete? If so what is the solution? Investments in automation are pouring and Mckinsey estimates that tech giants worldwide spent anywhere between $20 - 30 billion on AI in 2016. interestingly, one of the key drivers of these spends is the falling cost of capital. The unit cost of capital has dropped to less than 0.6 times the unit cost of labour. This amounts to a 16x drop from the unit cost of labour. This imbalance is flooding research in AI and robotics with money. These technologies will rewrite global competition, wealth generation and employment.
Martin Ford, futurist and author of The rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future, explains the jobs that are most at risk are those which “are on some level routine, repetitive and predictable”.Automation will put 47% of current US jobs at risk. Corresponding figures for other nations are 77% for China, 69% for India and 65% for Argentina. These estimates are for direct job loss. The real numbers will be several times larger. For e.g. autonomous cars will result in direct job losses for drivers of taxis, trucks and buses. But autonomous cars will be programmed to adhere to local laws, and the size of traffic police force can shrink substantially.
Telemarketing, for example, which is highly routine, has a 99% probability of automation. You may have already noticed an increase in irritating robocalls. Tax preparation, which involves systematically processing large amounts of predictable data, also faces a 99% chance of being automated. Indeed, technology has already started doing our taxes: H&R Block, one of America’s largest tax preparation providers, is now using Watson, IBM’s artificial intelligence platform.
Robots will also take over the more repetitive tasks in professions such as law, with paralegals and legal assistants facing a 94% probability of having their jobs computerized. According to a recent report by Deloitte, more than 100,000 jobs in the legal sector have a high chance of being automated in the next 20 years.
Fast food cooks also face an 81% probability of having their jobs replaced by robots like Flippy, an AI-powered kitchen assistant which is already flipping burgers in a number of CaliBurger restaurants.
Wait! What jobs will be safe from robots?
The first is jobs that involve “genuine creativity, such as being an artist, being a scientist, developing a new business strategy”. For now, humans are still best at creativity but there’s a caveat there. We can’t guarantee you that in 20 years a computer won’t be the most creative entity on the planet. There are already computers that can paint original works of art. So, in 20 years who knows how far it’s going to go?”
The second area is occupations that involve building complex relationships with people: nurses, for example, or a business role that requires you to build close relationships with clients.
Least at risk of automation, which includes recreational therapists, first-line supervisors of mechanics, installers, repairers, occupational therapists and healthcare social workers.
The 2020s are going to be a decade not of unemployment, but of redeployment. Beyond that, however, the picture is far less clear: long-term career planning with any confidence will be difficult. As Susskind notes, “We make assumptions about the indispensability of human beings”, but machines are already doing things we thought only humans might be able to. They’re composing original music, for example, and beating professional players at complex board games with creative moves. The major problem in handling this is what do you skill the unemployed for when 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven't been invented as yet? Again the number of new jobs created will not be same as those lost. In India, we must brace for the impact of these trends. Amongst the most severly affected will be the IT industry. Nasscom predicted that automation would result in 20% - 25% reduction in IT jobs in three years. It should be noted that automation isn’t the only phenomenon having an impact on the job market. Other such drivers as climate change, the rise of the middle class in many emerging markets, aging populations in certain parts of Europe and East Asia, and the changing aspirations of women as factors that will have significant impacts on jobs. “It’s really the coming together of these various drivers of change that then leads to disruptions in the labor market.
A futurist echoes the idea that we will all have to become as agile as possible and “have many forms of talent and work that you can provide the economy”.
In the future, she says, we’ll all have seven or eight jobs, with the average adult working for a number of companies simultaneously rather than working for one big corporation.
“We’re in the midst of this huge sweeping change that is going to impact all levels of society,”
So to understand the skill requirement for future, here are a few types.
- Ideation – The ability to come up with new ideas about a topic. Here, the number of ideas matter and not their quality or creativity.
- Decision making – The ability to understand the cost versus benefits of a potential idea or action and choosing the most appropriate one.
- Originality – The ability to come up with unique ideas on a given topic to creatively solve a problem.
- Active learning – Using learning principles methods to come up with procedures to teach new things.
- Systems evaluation – The ability to identify indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve the performance relative to the goals of the system.
- The ability to understand the implications of new information for current and future problem – solving and decision making.
- Complex problem solving – Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Critical thinking – Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weakness of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
- System Analysis – Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the encroachment will affect outcomes.
10. Deductive reasoning – The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense. This suggests that creativity, judgment, adaptability will play a critical role compared to domain-specific knowledge. While domain can be easily replaced by robots and AI, the ability for machines to handle skills like creativity is farfetched right now.
So embracing learning skills to stay ahead of your industry, you will position yourself to meet and exceed your goal – regardless of the technology or where you stand today.
Do all these sound scary?
Well, one never knows. Something most unexpected may happen to help us. Maybe more planets will be suitable for the human race to spread and use their creativity there.