Jobs And Automation

Question: Why are future employment prospects worse for secretaries than for foresters?

Answer: Because automation will gradually take over the jobs of secretaries but not the jobs of foresters.

Two economists named David Autor and David Dorn have recently been looking at how automation will affect employment in the future.  Their conclusions suggest that jobs like

secretaries, proof-reader’s and payroll clerks will gradually be taken over by computers whilst firefighters, police and teachers will be required long into the future.

The study suggests that even the jobs of hairdressers will succumb to ever-more intelligent machines although it seems unlikely that Jennifer Aniston will be trusting a scissor-wielding robot any time soon.

Which leads us on to the question of just how “intelligent” can machines become…

This week the BBC are taking a close look at the subject of A.I. (Artificial Intelligence).  In an article titled “Intelligent Machines: The jobs robots will steal first”  (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-33327659) Jane Wakefield suggests that taxis without drivers are not too far distant and robots already assist surgeons to perform extremely complex surgery.

The optimists within the scientific community believe that A.I. will free human beings from the drudgery of menial chores and allow us all to concentrate on things that are more enjoyable. These experts also believe that technology offers the potential to eradicate disease and poverty.

The other side of the coin is that experts such as Professor Steven Hawking believe that “A.I. may spell the end of the human race”.  The argument goes that if we succeed in making a computer that it is more intelligent than us then it might make another computer that is even more intelligent than it.  After a few computer generations, each getting more intelligent, they might consider humans to be surplus to requirements.

If your children like pondering such issues then why not take 40 minutes to listen to “The Last Question” (http://www.openculture.com/2015/06/isaac-asimovs-favorite-story-the-last-question-read-by-isaac-asimov.html) in which Isaac Asimov paints a picture of a very, very distant future.

Will robots be good for humanity or bad?  Should your children be aiming for a job that computers can’t do?  Ask them to see what they think.

2 thoughts on “Jobs And Automation

  1. Have to dive in here. I just wonder how anyone can imagine robots actually taking over and making humans redundant! It’s a popular sci-fi idea, but honestly, can a soul-less machine seriously out-think a human? Calculate, yes, but what about emotional responses and lateral thinking? The point is, humans are not machines. Machines are machines. Without humans, there wouldn’t be any, would there?

    • Musically speaking, the technology has been a tremendous help in terms of digital instruments (piano – lovely tone, no tuning) and making recordings/ sharing files so easy. I just enjoy being able to find and listen to any music on You Tube. However purely machine produced music/electronic music has been proven to be souless. Unless it also has a human element and that irreplaceable factor of live communication, it just doesn’t work.

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