Rise of the Machines

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

“Now, where did I leave my pen?”
Photo: Fortune – AP Photo/The Christian Science Monitor, Ann Hermes

Jobs board Monster.com ran an online poll recently, asking people how threatened they feel by robots. Namely, how likely they find it that a robot will be doing their work in a few years’ time.

Most people are in “robot overlord denial,” it turns out, thinking that computers could never replace them at work. Sadly, most are probably wrong.

According to this Fortune article, University of Oxford researchers Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne estimated in 2013 that 47% of total U.S. jobs could be automated by 2033. The combination of robotics, automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning is so powerful that some white collar workers are already being replaced — and we’re talking journalists, lawyers, doctors, and financial analysts, not the person who used to perform data entry.

Enter the Creatives

Surprisingly enough, there is a segment of workers for whom there’s still hope. According to Fortune, 86% of the people who are classified as “highly creative” are at low or no risk from automation!

“Artists, musicians, computer programmers, architects, advertising specialists … there’s a very wide range of creative occupations,” explained the article. Some other types would be financial managers, judges, management consultants, and IT managers. “Those jobs have a very high degree of resistance to automation.”

Indeed, creativity is one of the three classic bottlenecks to automating work. Tasks which involve a high degree of human manipulation and human perception — subtle tasks — are harder to automate. For instance, although goods can be manufactured in a robotic factory, real craft work still requires the human touch.

Of course, the degree of creativity matters. Financial journalists who rewrite financial statements are already beginning to be supplanted by software. The more repetitive and dependent on data the work is, the more easily a human can be pushed aside.

So, are you in a “creative” role that will be safe from automation? You can find out what these Oxford researchers think by taking their online quiz!

While we’re waiting for our machine overlords to take over, why not enjoy my award-winning children’s book, Runaway Smile for free?