How to keep a robot from taking your job

While you may be willing to welcome our new robot overlords, but if you want to make sure that they don’t take your job, be sure you find employment in a field that requires creativity, dexterity or social interactions, AI experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology advise.

In an article published Sunday by BBC News, Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the MIT Center for Digital Business, and Andrew McAfee, a principal research scientist at the Institute, explain that advances in robotics and other forms of digital technology has caused uneasiness among workers and that there is a pervasive sense of dread that they will eliminate existing jobs.

Brynjolfsson and McAfee, the authors of the book The Second Machine Age, explained that while machines “are getting very good at a whole bunch of jobs and tasks, there are still many categories in which humans perform better. And, perhaps more importantly, robots and other forms of automation can aid in the creation of new and better jobs for humans.”

“As a result, while we do expect that some jobs will disappear, other jobs will be created and some existing jobs will become more valuable, For example, machines are currently dominating the jobs in routine information processing,” they added. “On the other hand, jobs such as data scientist didn’t used to exist, but because computers have made enormous data sets analyzable, we now have new jobs for people to interpret these huge pools of information.”

Choose your career field wisely, experts advise

So essentially, even though robots will likely take over performing some jobs, other tasks will become available for workers, creating new jobs and industries, Brynjolfsson and McAfee said. If you want to be extra certain that you’re career isn’t one that’s on the chopping block, the duo pointed out three areas where humans have an advantage of machines.

The first is in creative endeavors such as writing, entrepreneurship and scientific discovery, all of which can be well-playing and rewarding careers, according to Brynjolfsson and McAfee. In fact not only is entrepreneurship a safe career choice, but they said that there is “no better time” to be an entrepreneur than now, “because you can use technology to leverage your invention.”

The second optimal career field is those requiring emotional intelligence, a uniquely human trait that machines simply cannot replicate. People who are motivated and sensitive to other peoples’ needs can excel as teachers, managers, leaders, negotiators, caretakers, nurses and coaches, they explained. Recent studies, they added, show that social skills “are increasingly in demand.”

The third type of employment that people are better suited for than robots are those requiring a high degree of physical dexterity and mobility, Brynjolfsson and McAfee said. Robots tend to be “clumsy and slow,” lacking the agility of flesh-and-blood men and women. Jobs that require this skill set, such as gardening and housekeeping, are ill-suited for machines, and while they are not necessarily high-paying positions, they should be safe from robot takeovers.

“Workers… have to be strategic and aim for the jobs least likely to be overtaken by robots or other machines,” they wrote. “They have to commit to a lifetime of practicing and updating their skills by, for example, taking extra courses online and in classrooms. Lifetime learning and continued training and retraining are key.”


Feature Image: Thinkstock