The ongoing worry of work in an automated world
In today’s workforce, it’s become common to worry about automation. Artificial Intelligence and smart machines seem to be the antithesis of human employment and replacing workers across all industries. It’s really no wonder as to why – automated technology is potentially faster, safer, cheaper and more accurate. By 2030, AI and robotics will likely automate around 861,000 jobs in the UK public sector alone. It’s easy to be worried about the spread of advanced robots and machine learning software, especially if you work in a semi-skilled, repetitive job. Even creative roles are under threat. However, in some ways, AI is actually a blessing in disguise for employment.
A whole new job market
AI might be the great unemployer, but the technology also presents some serious opportunities. Machine learning software is clever without a doubt, but in many cases humans are an integral part of making sure these systems run smoothly. This involves coding, programming, and fixing bugs or malfunctions. AI can collate and analyse data, but it can’t decide how a company or organisation responds to that information. This decision making process is still down to human employees, and involves a lot of intuition that software, because it’s software, simply doesn’t have. So, there are various different routes that can be pursued to increase employability in an automated world. And it’s not exactly hard to get hold of these qualifications, either. Online learning environments and MOOCs offer courses from VR development to machine learning engineering, and whilst these programmes aren’t free, they are far cheaper than most institutional qualifications. They’re also much quicker – a beginner’s coding course, for example, takes around five months. That’s less than a GCSE. AI and other innovative technologies aren’t going to kill the employment market, but they will create an entirely new one. This is clearly reflected in disrupted employment patterns and educational trends.
How might AI change employment?
Initially, AI will take away certain jobs, and that is an unavoidable fact. But at the same time, it will increase the demand for other roles. These positions will include the maintenance, monitoring and management of machine learning systems. The need for new skills is already disrupting employment patterns by altering what employers look for in potential staff. Businesses will want to hire people with a knowledge of software, programming and coding in order to track and monitor smart machines. They will need employees who understand computing and complex mechanics. Most of this work can be done remotely, removing the need for a physical professional environment. In turn, this will disrupt the way that co-workers interact with each other, if at all. Some jobs, of course, will continue to involve working alongside other human beings on a regular basis – but this could eventually become a rarity. These changing expectations could lead to changes in national education systems, which award students with ‘job currency’ in the form of academic qualifications. If a machine can complete complicated engineering tasks, why bother offering an engineering course? Instead, educational facilities will offer courses in the upkeep of advanced robotics. Coding, for example, is now part of the curriculum, because businesses need more coders.
The truth of the matter is that AI probably will take your job. But if you have the right skillset, losing your original employment might be the first step towards something much better. Now that innovative technology is a recognised driver of successful business, companies want to equip themselves with the right personnel to get the most out of tech. Artificially intelligent systems may well threaten the jobs that we do today, but we can certainly prepare ourselves for disruption in employment. The skills needed to thrive in tech dominated professional environments are clear – it’s now a case of taking a leap of faith and actively seeking to gain that specialist knowledge.
Do you have the skills needed to be successful in the changing employment market? How else could automation disrupt the physical workplace? Will automation have an impact on formal education? Comment below with your thoughts.