Automation: will my job still exist 5 years from now?

Things change.

Some of us remember the time when STD booths existed at every corner of country. These were booths from where you could make an intercity or international phone call for cash payment. Some estimates say that there were about 12 lac STD booths in our country.

They are gone now.

Millions of Americans worked in financial processing, phone help lines, and mass manufacturing jobs. Their livelihood depended on these jobs. They knew nothing else.

These jobs are gone from the US now. They are in India, China or Vietnam.

The jobs vanished because of something called labor arbritrage, i.e. the difference in labor wages between two countries was high enough for it to justify shifting the work overseas.

This required the presence of technology. Yet, certain jobs could not be outsourced, e.g. a haircut in the US cannot be outsourced to India!

Now, are we ready for the next wave - automation?

The rapid development of computing is creating a revolution in artificial intelligence. Believe it or not, artificial intelligence is already capable of doing some of the things that humans do, even better than humans. Computers have already beaten the worlds best grand masters at chess, which was supposed to be the pinnacle of human intelligence and strategy. Google has developed technology to process and recognise the content of images and photos. Facebook has launched a chatBot platform where organisations can create their online automated online avatars.

IBM is aggressively promoting it’s A.I. platform called IBM Watson. Watson is a question answering computing system. You can ask it any question. It will understand your question using natural language processing, and based on 200 million pages of structured and unstructured content in its database, it will attempt to answer your question in plain english!

Systems like IBM Watson are capable of replacing several types of human jobs. Call centre jobs, operations and analyst jobs, logistics coordinators are some of the jobs already at risk. But to take a step further, marketing strategy, accounting, technical sales, and even many lawyers and doctors will be at risk in a few years (Have a look at http://www.rossintelligence.com). Probably even teachers and mentors will be replaced by ChatBots and A.I. platforms!

OK. Maybe not 100%. These are early days. But certainly, things are certainly changing. Faster than we can imagine.

The question is - am I preparing myself adequately for the future?

What are the skills that cannot be automated, at least in the near future?
Courage?
Empathy?
Creativity?
Leadership?
Imagination?
Ability to take feedback?
Ability to get people together?
Ability to make sense when things are in chaos?
The desire to make a difference in the lives of others?

Would love to hear your thoughts! What do you think is going to really matter as we step into the bold, new world where no man has been before!


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