Robots will take over most professions. Some will be eliminated, but most will be modified, with robots and humans working collaboratively.
I just read Richard Baldwin’s book The Globotics Upheaval. It addresses the converging phenomenon of service globalization and robotics, which are already and will significantly affect the economy and jobs in the coming decades. Your reading makes some challenges clear, and one of them is that robots will take over the most professions. Some will be eliminated, but most will be transformed, with robots (and mostly software robots being understood here) and humans working collaboratively. Many professions will require fewer people involved, which already happens with current levels of automation.
In addition to the book, I delved into a McKinsey study, “ A future that works: automation, employment, and productivity. ” which I strongly recommend to read carefully. The study shows that about 5% of current professional activities can be completely eliminated, but the majority (60%) will have about 30% of the automated tasks. What does that mean? That the current professions will not totally disappear but will be greatly modified. The education system and talent hiring and retention processes in companies will need to be reviewed.
Professional activities will require more or lesser four skills: (a) communication, (b) thinking, (c) sociability and (d) physical skills. Communication skills require people to understand what other people are saying to them, even if not directly.
Artificial intelligence (AI) already works in this field and as an example, we see personal assistants such as Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and Google Assistant. Generally speaking, current technology is already at the level of humans in terms of understanding, except in certain contexts where linguistic nuances, sarcasm, and ironies still give humans a much higher level of understanding. The machines are still complicated by ironies and sarcasm.
Item (b) thinking has a broad spectrum and ranges from creativity to logical and rational thinking. In creativity, improvisation, and imagination human beings make it easy. Machines are good at searching for information and recognizing known patterns. Has difficulty recognizing new patterns.
An interesting example of the differences between machines and humans is Google Brain. He reviewed millions of YouTube videos and recognized a new pattern of images, cats. From this recognition, he began to identify all the cats that appeared in the videos. But he didn’t know it was a cat. Humans have classified this pattern of images as a cat.
In social skills or sociability (c) machines still lose ugly. With AI you can recognize people’s emotions by analyzing their expressions, but you have no idea what that emotion is. It’s worth reading the article “ Neural Nets Model Audience Reactions to Movies ” which shows a Disney experiment in training people to recognize emotions in front of a movie. Through training, the algorithm was able to predict what the audience’s expression would be for certain scenes before they were projected.
And we have the (d) physical skills. Physical dexterity is an important part of some professional activities and in general, in many of these activities robots are more efficient. Robotic assembly lines clearly show this. The difficulties are in identifying unknown objects and moving them on terrain that has not been previously mapped.
The ability to listen, reflect and create will make human function different. Thus, this scenario will create new functions, eliminate others and transform the others. Of course, many activities will be affected by automation. In retail, we can have 100% automated stores (like Amazon Go) and much less people working in them. In fast-food chains we already see robots making burgers and self-service is becoming standard. Reading the article “ Robot-Powered Pizza, Anyone? How Automation Is Transforming The Fast-Food Industry ”shows us the level of automation we have reached today.
In short, activities that have already become virtually robotic-like call center answering, sales and financial advisors, who follow rigidly predefined scripts, will have no room in contention with AI systems. After all, following a ready-made scheme, a machine can do and even better because it can consider countless other variables, querying real-time information scattered across dozens of databases. There is also a possibility that functions will disappear because your business has disappeared. We have no more encyclopedia sellers! In the future, with autonomous vehicles, we will no longer have Uber, truck and taxi drivers.
Sectors as different as medicine and banking will be affected. In the financial sector the article “ Citi issues stark warning on automation of bank jobs ” indicates that there will be a replacement of operating activities by machines. In medicine, we will see that AI and doctors will work cooperatively. The article “ Machine Learning in Medicine ” clearly shows the current boundaries between machines and humans in the pursuit of medical activities.
The rapid evolution of AI brings such significant impacts that we do not yet realize its magnitude. We have no idea what the job market will look like in 2050, but we know that AI and robotics will change almost every mode of work today, transforming careers and professions as we know them today. Jeff Bezos of Amazon said: “It’s probably hard to overstate the impact the next twenty years will have on society.”
What will be the role of AI in society? Will robots replace people? People who perform repetitive tasks will see these tasks replaced by robots. But most likely, AI will increase human performance by automating certain parts of a task, allowing individuals to focus on more “human” aspects that require empathic, social skills, and emotional intelligence.
In the near future, workers and machines will work together, complementing each other’s efforts. HR organizations will need to develop new strategies and tools to recruit, manage and form a human-machine hybrid workforce. It’s a significant change in the ways HR selects, hires, and evaluates professionals. It demands a redefinition of current functions and the accommodation of new functions, which do not even exist today in HR vocabulary.
Given the way traditional work models, career definitions and the HR industry are ingrained, reengineering work around AI will be a big challenge. It will require new ways of thinking about jobs, business culture, technology and, most importantly, people.
AI is becoming embedded in society just as smartphones have become embedded in our lives. Emerging as new, with the iPhone in 2007, it initially affected some industries, destroying solid companies like Nokia, BlackBerry, and Motorola and then spreading out transforming all our daily activities. Today it permeates our lives and is almost an organ of our body. We do nothing without them.
AI will be ingrained the same way. It started with recommendation algorithms, fits into the apps we use and will gradually become part of our lives. We will be dealing with AI in every way in our daily lives, from personal assistants to virtual doctors. In fast foods and driving autonomous vehicles.