What to do when AI takes your job

Use your Creativity!

Will AI and robotics take your job? It’s a question we keep returning to but I think the consensus is, for large groups of workers, yes and soon. A great quote I heard recently sums it up well:

“If you can write a tight job description then an AI robot can do that job – for free.”

Economist Michael Baxter, author of iDisrupted, said: “Emerging trends, such as the Free Economy and the Sharing Economy, can potentially make most of us better off, but they carry dangers. . . The combination of the Free and Sharing economy could lead to lower tax receipts for governments. Also, if AI and robotic technologies continue to develop at a rate commensurate with Moore’s Law, many jobs will be replaced by robots, which don’t require wages. . . We must find a way of ensuring that the fruits of technology trickle down, creating demand for the kind of jobs that computers will find hard to do.”

So where does that leave you when you’ve lost your job to a robot yet retain a lifetime of skills?

Firstly, there is significant evidence that we are moving towards the ‘gig economy’, where full-time employment is being replaced by tasks that are advertised on marketplaces like Peopleperhour.

But a real shift will come from people’s innate creativity, which remains the core differentiator between computers and humans. My partner has great fashion sense and a desire to design her own shoes. Thanks to technology, nothing’s now stopping her. Lucy can just download an app to her iPad and iterate her shoe design to perfection. She can then email the design to Amazon’s 3D printing bureau (launched in 2015) and Amazon will mail back her prototype. By spending a few dollars, she could accomplish a lifetime ambition in a few hours. But it gets even better than that. Amazon recently launched its 3D printing store, where designers and makers can showcase their wares. When someone clicks to buy, Amazon prints the product, ships it and sends the designer their commission. So from a standing start, Lucy can become a fully fledged business, with a design workshop, production, supply chain, marketing and accounting. It’s never been so easy to start a business – just go to Amazon’s Launchpad section.

Combine technology with creativity and you’ll have an emerging artisan economy. To quote author Alan Moore, “Businesses that embrace craftsmanship are the ones with higher valuations and resilient revenues. They are the ones that work with optimism, dedicating themselves to creating products and services that uplift their customers experience of the world in large and small ways. In so doing, the profits take care of themselves.”