Rise of the Machines
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?
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One of my biggest peeves is what automation has eliminated from the world: human interaction, personal contact, automated responses from businesses, and the list goes on. I’m happy to be a writer. Nobody can replace my own words and thoughts. We have only to keep our eyes on another kind of ‘Bot’, the trolls that besiege us. 🙂
Trolls could never be replaced by bots. No machine can match human stupidity! 😀
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I already have been replaced by computers… I’m a freelance editor, and as everyone knows, all any author needs to make his/her manuscript perfect is to run it through Microsoft Word’s spell check. (/sarcasm)
My twin, however, is an archaeologist (that’s his “day job”) as well as a novelist, and I don’t see either of those jobs being taken over by machines any time soon.
ROFL – damn, thank you for stopping me from wasting all that money on editors! Where is this magical “edit my MS” button when you need it… 😀
No, I don’t think either of you should be worried 🙂
Scary prospect. Replaced by a machine? I don’t think I’d like that much. Here’s hoping they never invent robots that can write good stories. 🙂
Hear, hear 🙂
I hope it never comes to one of those I Robot situtions or Terminator situations. That scares the heck out of me.
Fair enough. It’s humans that scare me the most, though 🙂
Nicholas, you almost scared me to death! 😉
Thank God creativity is still safe. ( For now. Dun dun dun.)
Lol – I could practically hear the chords in my head 😀
It took Oxford researches to work out those questions? Great Scot! Let’s hope they weren’t given a government grant. The sooner Oxford zombies are replaced by robots the better!
ROFL – academia at work, I guess 😀
I’m sure there will be an attempt to robotize literature and the arts but doubt it will successful.
I’m pretty sure there’s number of student projects on that as we speak 🙂
I took the quiz, using my career as the basis (before I became a writer) and I have a low probability of being replaced by a robot. Nice to know. It’s the people skills that are problematic for robots. Yes, robots have replaced SOME of the things that physicians do (my husband is one), such as surgery and assistance in diagnosis, but it’s knowing how to read and assess the patient and directing the robotic skills that can’t be taken over.
On another note, Nicholas, are you going to be okay for money with that no vote?
Good to know you’re safe 🙂
No idea. Right now, we’re running on fumes as we’re not allowed access to either our bank accounts or – even – our deposit boxes. I can understand the former, but the latter is just ridiculous. Even PayPal has suspended operations in Greece. I have a little money left in the UK from my student years. Ironically enough, I can access that.
We seem to have until Sunday. What happens after that is anyone’s guess.
Creativity would be difficult to replace with a robot, if not impossible. I think my current job as Grammie is safe. 🙂
Lol – a lovely job indeed 😀
So people who figure they can’t be replaced by software are kidding themselves, except for people like the article-writer who figures writers can’t be replaced by software? I’m not sure I’m comfortable with the logic here.
Well, he’s a creative, right? 🙂
I’ve played around with those online story generators and, while they can make me laugh, they never offer a readable story. Also, I have to do all the work: enter adverbs and adjective and character names. I think we’re safe, at least for now.
Lol – that’s good to know 😀
I would think the field of politics and punditry would be wide open to robots, as those seem to be occupations that require no human intelligence.
Oh dear…. you should watch “Humans Need Not Apply” on Youtube…. turns the creatives are safe argument into one of slightly less certainty! I’m hoping that all the automation just means that our economic systems will need to change, and more people will be able to pursue answers to all the questions no one has the resources, time, or money for right now!
That’s one possibility, sure :b
No, robots could never produce a truly great novel. I wonder, though, if they uploaded all NYTB into a database if they could produce a passable reproduction. Doubtful, but I wouldn’t put it past Amazon or Google to try.
An interesting question. It’s one of the things many Indies accuse traditionally published authors of; that all their work follows the same recipe (insert such point at exactly one third of the book etc). In return, traditionally published authors retort that it’s what maximizes people’s reading experience, therefore it’s okay.
I guess it’s like comparing someone experimenting in the kitchen and occasionally stumbling across a great recipe, to a trained chef.
So interesting. My grandson (the overlord) is interested in robots. Are the marketing gurus preparing him for a robotic world? I don’t think robots will replace creative fields or fields that require nuanced human relationships – our experiences are way too individual for the brightest IA to sort into a decision tree. Hmmm – book material in here.
Isn’t it just? That’s why I had to share 🙂
As you’ve already got an overlord, I think you have nothing to fear. I’m sure robots would flee from your household.
I have to say I would definitely invest in a housework robot. It wouldn’t be replacing a paid human job and I’d have more time to write. And a cooking robot would be nice too.
Hey, I like cooking! It relaxes me. Plus, it’s an excuse to get away from the monitor 🙂
I’m a terrible cook…sadly. So it feels like work. Good cooks with that natural flair are welcome in my neck of the woods anytime – even if they’re robots. 😀
You’re still trying to get me to move there, right? 😀
Yeah. Now that I know you cook, it’s a must.
Lol – wait ’till you’ve tried Electra’s moussaka. You’ll probably cover the tickets yourself :b
Sounds wonderful. Two cooks!
The funny thing is, we love different things – both to prepare and to eat (for example, I’m hopeless with desserts, but great with snacks). Needless to say, I was 20 kilos (50 pounds?) less when we first met 🙂
I agree, though I’m sure someone will try to do a workaround on the creative process.
There will be a segment of the population that will learn how to adapt and turn it to their advantage. When I worked for a headhunter in the 90’s, during the very early dotcom era, crazy money was being thrown at college kids who were familiar with the internet world, with virtually no experience in other matters except for the online. Companies were hiring and paying 50 to 100k to students just graduating, and that left a lot of people who’d worked in the industry for 30 years, bumped from their job. A new era rose, where those out-of-work people turned to consulting, working from home, and the idea really gathered a foothold. Not to say people weren’t doing that in some degree, but it really gathered momentum around this time, in my experience. Today, we think nothing of working from a mobile office or from home offices.
I love how you included the whole process. It reminds me of birthing pains, really. Sounds like, whatever happens will require a painful period of adaptation, followed by wide-spread acceptance.
You should have ended the title with a “…for now.” A computer system was able to trick 2 out of three test subjects last year into thinking they were communicating with a human also known as the Turing test. It was an accomplishment that really should have made larger headlines. How did it do this? By mimicking the responses that someone would expect from a teenage boy. It’s genius when you think about it. Next someone will try to recreate the old hypothesis that Shakespeare could be replicated if enough keystrokes were hit on enough keyboards. Sure, it wouldn’t actually be creative, but we wouldn’t recognize the difference.
An interesting distinction, but a real one. Its not really intelligence that scares me, it’s consciousness. Thankfully, we’re nowhere near understanding ours, let alone replicating it. Humans are much scarier in that respect.
Agree on the unique contribution of creatives…they will not be replaced. I also seem to think there will be a return to human-based customer service jobs. Folks are tiring of those robo-calls and the dreaded IVR…Interactive Voice Recorders, who try to keep you from human interaction on the phone/computer for as long as they can.
Note: To defeat the IVR, press O for Operator on a continuous basis…it will bypass the recorded messages and get you to a human. ☺
Wow, that’s a great tip – thank you! 🙂
You’re welcome. It works every time. ☺ I’ve had my share of customer service jobs in the past.
This is what I keep saying. Everyone is worried about the zombie apocalypse while robots are slowly taking over. At this point it might be the zombies that save us from the robots, but I doubt that would go in their favor. Now, what are the chances of non-creative people trying to flood the creative arenas when this becomes more obvious? Also, how does a robot replace a lawyer?
Erm, replacing lawyers with robots sounds like an improvement, actually :b
Guess I’m just wondering how they’re supposed to do the necessary task of word twisting. A justice system with pure logic? It’ll never work. 😛
Madness! Utter madness!
For a second, I thought you wrote ‘udder madness’. Made me think you were subtly telling me that the cows were starting a global rebellion.
They’ve already depleted the ozon layer with all the farting :b
And blamed the pigs.
Poor pigs. They get the blame for everything, from the flu to the farting. I’m telling you, it’s a cow conspiracy.
Where do chickens and sheep fall into this?
They’re part of the conspiracy, but not both are willing ones. The cows hold the eggs hostage, and everyone knows that eggs come before everything else for chickens. Even chickens themselves.
Sheep will just follow anyone who barks.
Makes sense. Though now I’m remembering eating an ostrich burger, which brings up further questions.
Don’t get me started on ostriches. Meanest glare you’ve ever seen. They could outglare even my mom, and that’s saying something.
Kind of ugly and mean too. On the plus side, they aren’t as deadly as cassowaries.
Your bird knowledge never ceases to amaze me! 🙂
Was big into animals as a kid and teen. I look up various critters when designing monsters too. Occupational necessity at times.
Ah, that explains it, then 🙂
‘Robot overlord denial’ is a good way to put it Nicholas. Once seen as freeing mankind from repetitive manual tasks, the automatons are now possibly going to create world-wide poverty.
Those of us that have retired are also safe from being replaced of course, but it doesn’t bode well for the future of our children and grandchildren.
Best wishes, Pete.
In a sense, aren’t we already spending most of our time tending to our machines? 🙂
Very true Nicholas. Are we using them to our benefit, or are we nurturing their eventual takeover? One to ponder…
To be honest, I haven’t seen any evidence of real intelligence so far, so I’m not worried – for now. Things could change with quantum computing, of course.
I suppose that I can rest in the knowledge that I am unlikely to ever witness machine-age control Nicholas. It is still a long way off yet.
Best wishes from England. Pete.
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