Will technology replace your job?
Are you afraid of losing your job? Or, you're sure it's safe? Technology gives humans great leverage. Should business owners and workers bother?
Let's look at some jobs from the "old days".
Jobs that disappeared
Take, for example, product peddlers in the 18th and 19th centuries. These are the people who went to other people's doors and tried to sell their products. Books, candies, sewing machines. What was the problem there? You don't know whether those people want a product you sell.
This job didn't disappear completely. It migrated to other cold-approaching techniques. Sellers try to reach at least someone to sell a thing nobody may care about. Isn't it better when customers find sellers themselves? Yes. But sellers may not develop their distribution channels to this degree. It's hard to find them.
Sewing machines peddlers disappeared, but sellers still use the approach. Which annoys "potential" customers. Do we need peddlers? No, because we can find any product or service on the Internet. Or, in a newspaper, if it's 1950. Is it bad? Salespeople replaced peddlers and there are many kinds of them. Because of many distribution channels.
When a telegraph was in wide use, there were telegraphists. The people who dispatch messages using special symbols(e.g. Morse code). They disappeared because new forms of communication emerged. Is it bad? No, because current forms of communication are much more convenient. The protocols don't need special people to handle and deliver messages. We can automate it.
In the old days, telephones need a special intermediary device(switchboard). It connects a caller with other callers. For that, switchboard operators place the wires by hand. Then, we advanced telephones to handle it. Is it bad? No, because it's convenient to call a person, rather than an operator.
Is it bad to cut routine?
What's common with the disappeared jobs above? The first thing is that they demand a lot of routine actions. The second thing is they became obsolete once technology advanced enough.
Is it bad we cut routine? Someone may claim it's bad because jobs disappear. Let's figure out the initial motivation to have a job.
People have a job to earn money, right? And many of them want to do the least amount of work possible to make money. The least amount of work also means not much mental effort. Such people prefer physical work over mental. Well, there still are and will be the jobs to use a physical force and get paid.
Yet, the main advantage of humans is our ability to think. We have a brain that adapts to the environment well. We learn things fast. That's what we do the last 100 years: adapt to a lot of new inventions, approaches. Yes, we did so all the time, only not so fast.
Eliminating routine allows us to level up in the development process. It opens new opportunities. Like the job examples above. People stopped doing something and found a new job to do. Usually, it required less physical effort and more mental. Thus, we explore new horizons because more people become available.
Is routine good for businesses?
A business becomes more profitable due to new opportunities to scale. How do you scale a business? You take a workflow that works here and use it elsewhere. With routine things, a business owner needs more time to "copy" the workflow to a new place.
With routine tasks, a business needs more money to spend on employees doing the work. Or, if it doesn't delegate to employees, it spends the founders' time. Less routine, less money to spend, more profits. Is routine good for a business? Definitely no.
Is routine good for employees? For those, who want to do the least amount of work possible and get paid, yes.
What business gets more money? One, which delivers more value to a customer. It saves the customer's resources, so the latter is glad to pay money. A business automates repeating workflows, scales the delivery, and earns money. Other entrepreneurs also want a share of the pie. More competition emerges.
We develop new technology and enhance the existing ones due to competition. A business employs new technology and gets more profits. Or, it doesn't and goes out of business.
Notice it doesn't apply much for low competition markets. It's where one can deliver much less value and still get the money. Take, for example, any local business that provides such services within a 10km radius. Do they care about providing an awesome quality value? It depends on the owner, but they may not care until another such business goes into the area.
Is advancing technology good for an average worker?
For one, who:
- wants to make money with the least effort;
- doesn't want to learn new things;
- prefers doing one thing through the lifetime;
It isn't good, because a job can become obsolete. Or, not so well paid. Thus, earning money through working on someone becomes difficult.
On the other side, the life quality becomes better. A worker receives more services of high quality. New opportunities emerge.
For other types of people who don't mind learning new things, it's good. They use their time in a more efficient manner. They don't do the repeating and work. Some will switch to a different domain to find a job. Some will continue working in the industry but in a different position. For example, you were copying reports by hand. Now you do the same work but on a computer. After 5 years, you'll be creating algorithms to do copying better.
Will AI replace my job?
Let's postpone a talk about AI. We have technologies to replace many jobs currently.
For example, who likes realtors? They allegedly help you to find a place to rent, buy, or sell. Why do we need them if there's the Internet? Why can't we contact the house owners straight? We can, but there are some reasons we don't.
It's risky to do such operations with a stranger. There is a lot of fraud. Realtors verify the necessary documents an owner should have. Many of them don't, of course.Then, imagine you want to sell a house fast. You know you'll receive 2 calls per week from potential buyers. But a realtor contacts you and says she will speed up the process for free. And she does. But the buyer pays the price.
We can have a system to verify owners and potential buyers, make handling a deal convenient. Instead of doing a lot of inconvenient, slow things, plus including government service. We'll create one that replaces realtors soon.
Let's take a look at another example. Accountants make reports by hand on paper. Some of them do so both on paper and in a computer system. Can we migrate to a digital space? We could, but we can't. It's easy to make calculations and make digital reports, so why not?There are reports we send to the government. So it checks we're ok doing our business.
The problem with the government is it's so slow at employing technology. Many govs still use a lot of paper in communication and reports. When a business interacts with the government, it becomes a real pain. The same when you should interact with the "old days" businesses. They live in the 20th century because they still can earn money.
The main takeaway from these 2 examples is it's not so simple to integrate new technology. It's not true for small businesses, but very true for large ones. The smaller players are more flexible. We have a tech to improve the current state of things, but it's not fast to put it in place sometimes.
What about AI? Will it replace your job?
If it does, it won't be fast. Even if one of Elon Musks' companies presents a general intelligence tomorrow. Currently, we're far from there. Yet, we have many techs that do a job better than humans already. So, we should state the question as "will technology replace my job?".
And the answer is yes, it will. But we may create a different form of the job. For example, we'll replace realtors. But they can program algorithms to make safe deals between house owners and buyers. Accountants can control the automated workflows to generate a company's reports.
Will AI replace programmers?
No. Every period of time we create tools to simplify the programmers' workflow. For example:
- Meeting tools, so I can be at home and talk with people in a convenient way. Thus, we can save time by not going to offline meetings.
- No-code tools. Thus, we may create a simple app without coding. Or, a complex app with less coding, or completely without it.- Frameworks and libraries that simplify the work. So I don't need to do a routine thing again. E.g. building an auth or payment system. The same applies to online services that help in eliminating the routine.
Even we have tools to build websites without code, we still need to manage other stuff. How to scale a system. How to deploy it. How to better collect data. How to automate creating a bunch of similar or not websites/apps. And so many more.Even when we automate all the above, we can develop other systems rather than websites. For example, a drone network that connects to satellites. Or, personal rockets software. There are many wonderful things to create.
We'll adjust the jobs' form we currently have. We'll deprecate some of them completely. The process isn't fast as one may think though. Are you safe? Yes for now. Keep track of the technology and learn new things. At least, learning them helps you understand humans' development vectors.