What if automation is looming in the shadows of your world ready to take over chunks of your workload?

I know. You’ve been hearing this prediction for years. You may think: “My job is still secure. All of these warnings are probably nothing more than a bunch of hooey. So, why should I even spend a nanosecond of concern?”

If you’re thinking that way, think again! We’re at the precipice of a universal swing similar to what took place in the agriculture industry. At one time, farming accounted for 70 percent of the country’s workforce, now a mere 1 percent of America’s work population is farmers.[1]

The World Economic Forum predicts such a disruptive shift as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics will take over more than 5 million jobs by 2020. They suggest even CEO positions are not immune.[2] In fact, it is estimated that at least 47% of all employment in the US may be automated in the next 20 years.[3]

H&R Block now offers IBM’s Watson as a competitive edge, saying: “We’re combining over 60 years of tax expertise with Watson’s cognitive computer technology. With that much knowledge at our fingertips, all we can say is, ‘Hello, maximum refund.’”

I say: “Hello, tax accountants. Are jobs becoming harder to find with Watson and Turbo Tax gaining ground in the marketplace?”

Let’s explore some of the industries and the positions currently being impacted:

  • Watson’s cognitive computing power integrates the latest research to recommend individualized patient cancer treatment.
  • 80 percent of the stock market trades are now executed by robots eliminating 57,000 jobs.[4]
  • Articles are currently written by computer algorithms.
  • All those annoying automated solicitation calls. I even received a call where after the giveaway pause, a voice said: “I’m sorry I had a problem with my headset.”
  • The world’s largest hedge fund announced it was developing algorithms to automate management decisions, including the hiring and firing of employees.[5]
  •  Johnson & Johnson endeavored to sell a robot that can put patients to sleep for simple procedures. Humans rejected it, so J&J is no longer markets the device. But how far away can it be?[6]
  • Training was once in person now 77 percent of companies are using online programs to educate their workforce.
  • The industry of coaching has automated coaching programs to meet corporate business needs.
  • Software now allows college professors to manage the coursework for hundreds of students at a time. And physical robots are being used to teach English to students in Japan and Korea.[7]

What is the next marketplace or industry to be effected? Could it be the one where your expert contribution will be displaced or eliminated?

Challenge the boundaries of your mind by asking questions:

  • Is your job made up of reams of paperwork?
  • Are there scads of data you’re required to learn and implement?
  • Are you responsible for rote-like activities?

Martin Ford, author of Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future, suggests the ultimate question: “Could another person learn to do your job by studying a detailed record of everything you’ve done in the past?”

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, your long-term career future might be bleak. However, if you’re job calls for creativity, judgment, curiosity, empathy, human-to-human connection, or non-routine work then your job is safe—for right now.

This disruption need not negatively impact your career it can actually offer you amazing opportunities, as long as you consistently extend your abilities to meet tomorrow’s demands—ones which are guaranteed to include a robust, productive, automated world.


[1] https://www.wired.com/2012/12/ff-robots-will-take-our-jobs/

[2] http://fortune.com/2016/08/17/ai-u-s-workforce/

[3] http://www.businessinsider.com/calculator-see-jobs-robots-artificial-intelligence-will-take-2015-9

[4] http://fortune.com/2016/08/17/ai-u-s-workforce/

[5] https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/feb/09/robots-taking-white-collar-jobs?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

[6] https://www.wired.com/2016/05/robot-surgeon/

[7] https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/feb/09/robots-taking-white-collar-jobs?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

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