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Why you shouldn’t worry about robots replacing the jobs of humans

Andrew Sadauskas /

Recently, Old Taskmaster has read a lot about how robots could mean the end of many careers – and frankly, I’m sick of the whinging!

 

Of course, this is talk your humble correspondent has heard many times before. Back in the ‘80s, Sonny Jim Crockett, the fearmongers tried to scare the masses by proclaiming the desktop computer would destroy many jobs.

 

The age of the paperless office was coming, they breathlessly proclaimed, and the big growth industry would be leisure – to fill all the spare time we’d have because we’d all have to work less because computers would all do our jobs! Well, your humble correspondent is still waiting for the day!

 

So what then of these Chicken Littles who proclaim the end of so many careers as a result of robots?

 

Well, here’s a thought experiment for you. Imagine the year is 1985. One Mrs. Schubach, the careers coordinator at Parts Unknown High School, has asked the class to fill in a form explaining what they expect to do in 30 years’ time. What the reaction would have been if some of the students wrote down the careers the students actually ended up doing 30 years later?

 

Well, Schubach takes the first sheet of paper from the file. Apparently young Sally says she wants to be a “web developer – ruby on rails” when she grows up.

 

“What sort of career choice is that?!” Schubach exclaims. “Clearly young Sally is being a bit of a smartarse here. A web developer?! Like Spiderman? Good luck finding that radioactive spider, kid!

 

“As for selling ‘rubies’ while on the ‘rails’ – really, seeling luxury jewellery to rich people in mink-fur coats on locomotives hasn’t been much of an industry since the 1920s – and it’s not about to come back any time soon!”

 

Schubach grabs the second sheet of paper, and the answer is even more absurd. Little Jenny wants to be a ‘search optimisation expert’.

 

“More details needed,” Schubach says. “What ‘search’ do you hope to ‘optimise’? The search for buried treasure? Gold? A train they sell rubies on?! May I suggest the search for a clue! This is even more absurd than young Sally’s answer!”

 

An increasingly exasperated and frazzled-looking Schubach grabs a third sheet of paper from the pile. Jimmy says he wants to do ‘social media marketing’.

 

“I knew your family was a pack of pinkos politically, but this is preposterous!” Schubach says. “What kind of a living do you expect to make by shilling communist propaganda! Being a ‘social’ media marketing expert is the worst answer I’ve seen so far!”

 

Poor old Mrs. Schubach’s head just about exploded when she read the next sheet of paper. The answer contained a career her increasingly laboured 1985 brain simply couldn’t comprehend: “Startup disruptor”.

 

“Disruptor?! The only thing that’s been disrupted with these answers is your time – and mine! Seriously, what’s wrong with you kids! Why don’t you want sensible jobs– like a typist? Or a lithographer? Or a job 24-hour film processing store?! The sorts of careers that have been around for years – and always will be!”

 

And it’s a good thing poor old Schubach stopped there. Who knows what she would have thought an “Uber driver” did.

 

Clearly, many of the jobs today would have been barely comprehensible to someone like Mrs. Schubach, the humble careers coordinator at Parts Unknown High School back in 1985. And likewise, many of the careers that will exist in 30 years are things we could barely imagine today.

 

Will robots and big data disrupt your job? It’s certainly possible. But bigger, brighter and better careers are also on the way.

 

So don’t fear disruption from robots – create some of your own!

 

Get it done – today!

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Andrew Sadauskas

Andrew Sadauskas is a former journalist at SmartCompany and a former editor of TechCompany.

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