In a World Under Threat from Robotics and Automation

IN A WORLD UNDER THREAT FROM ROBOTICS AND AUTOMATION - It will be creativity that fills the gap and creates new opportunities. 

We naturally tend to be apprehensive when reading or hearing the news about the imminent takeover by robots and algorithms, which eliminate jobs for human workers. Often the first examples of jobs at risk are blue-collar factory workers, service sector staff and taxi drivers. You will mentally pat yourself on the back because you think your white-collar job is not under threat from robotics, and automation.

However, in truth no job is safe from the age of automation, robotics and artificial intelligence. Increasingly, sophisticated machine and algorithm learning are demonstrating that jobs previously regarded as being solely capable of being performed by humans, can often be conducted better by machines.

Boston Consulting Group predicts that by 2025 nearly a quarter of jobs available today will be replaced by software or intelligent robots. Similarly,  a study by the University of Oxford suggested that up to 35 percent of the existing UK jobs could be at risk of automation over the next 20 years.

Self-driving vehicles, semi-autonomous intelligent algorithms, predictive analysis tools, robots and machines are increasingly able to perform a wide range of works which have historically been performed by human beings. Researchers at Oxford University predicted in a 2013 study that up to 47% of all jobs in the US are at risk of "computerization". This view was echoed by respondents in a recent expert survey of the Pew Research Center, where it was predicted that technology in robotics and software advances will result in a net change of jobs over the coming decades - with potentially profound implications for workers and society as a whole.

Great creative ideals like the invention of smart phones, and their ability to carry out bank transactions is another major threat. This innovation has enabled people to do their banking without having to enter a branch if they do not want. Now people can deposit cheques using a smart phone or send money to other people using Venmo.

The end result is a smooth experience for consumers, where they are more 'in control' of their finances; but this does signal an imminent threat to people working in bank branches. 

Banking has clearly been one industry where traditional bank tellers and customer-facing staff have been replaced. However, this trend is likely to precipitate to high-end banking functions as computers become smarter, as they learn from humans. The reduction in the workforce of banks is about to accelerate as more technology takes over human labour. It is anticipated that another 30% of bank jobs could be lost between 2016 and 2026, mainly due to automation of retail banking.

In fact, the smart phone revolution has changed the landscape of electronic commerce to a point that threatens the more established players. The payments industry has seen some of the biggest changes, with platforms like PayPal, Payoneer, Apple (AAPL, tech30) and payment Square (SQ) transforming the way consumers make payments.

We are already acclimatised to the algorithms which enable search engines like Google, to predict what we are looking for, when we have a vague idea or mis-spell the search criteria. Similarly, we have our own assistant with SIRI, who is able to provide us with a wide, even if limited selection of 'answers'. 

However, even with these changes creativity from human beings will still be able to carve niches for themselves. People will still need human interaction in some form, despite the Even though banking is now predominantly online, with reducing need for physical money, this does present opportunities. We are seeing record-breaking cyber crime and fraud, which the banks and institutions seemingly have no solutions. Personal data security is therefore an area where there will be scope for human beings to produce creative measures to combat this issue.

Creativity and the Future World of Robots and Automation

An automated economy can actually be an inspiration for young people in college or those starting work instead of fear, and panic for the future.

There is still much that robots, artificial intelligence and automation cannot do in the grand scale of things. We must strive forward with technology in a manner which protects humanity, whilst utilising technology for the greater good of human beings and the planet. Some scientists have already expressed a preference for assistive or augmented intelligence, where this technology is used to increase the abilities of human beings. There is merit in this viewpoint as many protocols, effects and rules regarding automation and artificial intelligence, have barely been considered as we strive forward at a record pace.

Human beings will need to find creative ways to gainfully occupy themselves with work, play and lifestyle activities. One of the biggest challenges will be that of employment as jobs become scarce. 

There will still be scope for judgment-based opportunities as robots and artificial intelligence cannot yet reason in the way human beings do with empathy and experience. However, as technology advances, so will the ability of machines.

Entrepreneurship and philanthropy is already becoming popular as people recognise the need to stand-alone for their own wellbeing. The numbers will probably continue to swell in the next ten years, as job opportunities decrease.

An economist at the University of Chicago with an interest in motor accidents conducted research into the PELTZMAN EFFECT. This is basically a theory of risk compensation, which states people are more careful when they perceive greater risk, and less so when they feel safe.

This economist found out that when you invent safety features like airbags and seat belts, it does not reduce the rate of accidents. This may seem odd, but may in fact, be due to people taking more risks because of the safety features. People tend to take more risks when there is a safety measure in place. This theory may play out in the future, in that we see humanity becoming more inventive and creative in response to changes in the economy as a result of automation.

Indeed, if we reflect we are indeed seeing brave and intelligent creativity in the wake of a world under threat from robotics and automation.


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