Rise of the machines!

Robots assembling cars

Disclaimer This is not about a “Terminator” type of event, like machines taking over the world , sorry sci-fi fans .

For more than a decade Automation meant something similar to the above photo, some robotic arms assembling car parts, that’s what we call mechanical muscles.

But now we have mechanical minds as the compute cost goes constantly cheaper Calculations per Second per 1000$

Businesses tends to replace humans with computers more aggressively .

Robots like [Briggo barista that makes your coffee based on a mobile app. and remembers your selection can easily replace humans, of course some coffee addicts like me will still prefer the touch of their usual barista guy but millions don’t care , they just want a decent cup of coffee.

Let me simplify the cruel fact, if your job is about moving text and numbers from one spreadsheet to the other, your job will most probably disappear in ~10 years .

There are 3 main pillars which are leading us this direction :

  • AI : Artificial intelligence , Will machines and programs be able to change their responses based on outside interaction ? Well, they already do , still not perfect but they can , check this quote from DeepMind chief executive Demis Hassabis about Google’s AlphaGO :

It played itself, different versions of itself, millions and millions of times and each time got incrementally slightly better - it learns from its mistakes

What will happen next? Maybe an ambitious developer will write a programming platform that human-developers can fill with different modules and it can adapt according to business needs , find bugs , release new versions etc.. , a self-healing, self-developing ecosystem .

Also Robots motor movements had substantial development , Boston Dynamics Youtube Channel shows lots of videos about robots that most probably we will see it in the next world war :)

  • IoT : Internet of things , or as I like to call it “Internet-Of-Shit” , where electronic devices can talk to each other , so if you have a monitoring system that tells you the machine in the factory is broken, and a human being have to read and confirm the alert then send a technician to fix the broken machine , say sayonara to both of those human jobs they are not needed .

Now the machine and a fixing robot can talk to each other and do the needful .

It’s estimated that houses will have ~50 IoT devices by 2020 Internet of shit

The Cloud : Cloud is basically allowing companies to consume compute resources as a utility without having their own infrastructure , think of it like electricity , you use it and just pay the bill , that being said the impact of Cloud on humans is mainly affecting IT jobs , jobs like Sysadmins, DBAs and Network Admins will not be needed “that much” .

As I mentioned those are the 3 main pillars affecting jobs in the near future , but how can these technologies be seen in the market ? lets take two examples .

  • Transportation sector offers nearly 70 million jobs worldwide , those are the easiest to automate , have you seen the protests Uber caused around the world ? , imagine the impact when self-driving cars hit the market and Uber add them to its fleet :) , self-driving cars wont sleep, text or act stupid while driving .

Nevertheless self-driving cars doesn’t need to be perfect , they just need to make fewer mistakes than human drivers.

  • Those nice administrative jobs in a cubical (White-collars) where you sit typing and clicking .

Guess what automation engineers are after you , creating software bots - which are even faster and cheaper than robots - that can take over your place .

Given the fact that white-collars are more expensive than skilled workers , the incentive to automate their work is even greater !

You may think that even the smartest engineer can’t create a software bot that can do my work exactly , well you maybe right, but automation is not about writing software that does your job , that’s old fashion now, its about writing software that can teach itself to do your job, simply you show the software a bunch of stuff do , a bunch of stuff done correctly and it teaches itself how to do it right .

Software bots can be seen in action in the stock market, where they changed the NYSE floor from this NYSE floor before

To that

NYSE floor after

Some may think : “ You’re totally wrong, we are not going that direction , government elected officials and worker unions will stand against such disaster

Well, think again , do you remember a single time were worker unions won a fight over corporates (Capitalism) ?

The corporates urge will be massive to cut costs and have higher efficiency, simply a faster, more guaranteed ROI .

In fact such debate sounds like two horse cart owners in the early 1900s laughing about cars taking over their business , now we know what happened .

Here is a list of the jobs I see most prone to automation :

  • Librarians
  • Loan officers
  • Tellers
  • Procurement clerks
  • Call Center Operators
  • Post service clerks
  • Machinery inspectors
  • Maintenance Workers
  • Auditors
  • Restaurant and Coffee Shop Hostesses
  • Drivers
  • Transportation Inspectors
  • Administrative Assistants AKA secretaries

My guess is a small percentage of human beings will be still working at this jobs in the near future , and they will be forced to accept some kind of minimum wage , just to give a human touch to the service when a customer requires it .

This post is not about how bad automation is , its about automation is here already and its inevitable.

IMHO automation wont affect ALL jobs right away but it will affect considerable number of jobs gradually, that will cause a huge problem if we are not prepared , and we are NOT prepared !

Written on March 19, 2016