The bots are coming. It's time to rethink your career

Thomas Staven Profile picture for user Thomas Staven October 23, 2016
The advent of AI, machine learning and software bots will bring displacement to the workforce. It's time to rethink your career, warns Unit4's Thomas Staven

Business person working late © SFIO CRACHO/ Unit4 use only
It is no secret that artificial intelligence (AI) is growing rapidly in sophistication. As evidenced by self-driving automobiles, computers capable of diagnosing certain medical conditions and bots that can make accurate financial trading predictions, society is poised for a major revolution.

Naysayers predict there will be massive job loss as machines enter the labor pool, but history has so far proven that the economy has prospered and grown substantially due to automation. Bots are going to enter the workforce and cause displacement, that is certain. The human element will have to evolve and re-think its position to remain viable when systems become autonomous and self-driving.

It’s not all doom and gloom

Automation in the workforce has long been a fear because it results in displacement for some forms of employment. The same can be said for bots and machine learning; computers can already become self-driving, and will certainly take over tasks that are currently performed by humans. What people often forget to look at, however, is that humans are still needed for AI to be successful.

In the late 1800s, 80% of the labor force in the United States was farm-based, while today's farming landscape employs only 2%. Despite this drastic drop in human workers on farms, the entire economy has vastly improved, and displaced workers transitioned to other forms of employment.

As AI began taking shape in the 1990s, fear struck again as new forms of automation were introduced in the form of computers and machine learning. Computers were able to process data faster than the human element, so new positions were taken, businesses expanded due to resources being freed and the workforce adapted.

Partnering with bots

Machine learning and the creation of bots that are more interactive and even intuitive will not eradicate the human element of the labor force, but they will force people to adapt and re-think their careers. Bots are capable of processing data and performing repeat functions at far greater speeds than humans will ever be capable of, but faced with a unique situation, the machine is halted. Humans are able to assess a situation and come up with a reasonable response – machines are linear and based on a “simple” syntax that cannot create semantics. In this arena, bots cannot compete with people.

The incredible power and speed of bots partnered with the human ability to adapt quickly and bring together seemingly unrelated ideas can reach currently insurmountable goals. If people learn to collaborate with bots and capitalize on what they can contribute, their focus can be shifted to where it is needed most. Imagine a world where mechanically repetitive tasks are self-driven by bots and humans are able to maximize their mental contributions.

The key to success

Capitalism thrives on competition, and a bot economy partnered with the human element will make us more competitive than ever. The workforce will become more efficient, costs will be reduced, business growth will be realized, and re-shoring of businesses currently overseas will be a consideration in future job creation.

There is a revolution coming, and it is going to change how the human component factors into the labor force. Those who choose to embrace the advances in technology, remain open-minded and increase their adaptability will remain viable in the bot economy.

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