How Automation will change the work that we do

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Throughout history, the vast majority of humanity worked because they had no choice. Many found comfort, purpose, and significance in their efforts, but others saw work as a necessary evil to be avoided at all costs. For ages, elites in countries ranging from Europe to Asia sought to be free of work. A "man in freedom," according to Aristotle, is the apex of human existence, an individual free of all concern for the demands of life and with nearly total personal agency. (Intriguingly, he did not consider affluent merchants to be free in the sense that their minds were preoccupied with acquisition.)

The promise of artificial intelligence and automation creates fresh concerns about the role of employment in our lives. Most of us will continue to focus on physical or financial output for decades to come, but as technology produces services and things at ever-lower costs, humans will be forced to discover new roles – jobs that aren't necessarily tied to how we think of labour today.

According to economist Brian Arthur, "part of the challenge will not be economic, but political." How will the benefits of technology be distributed? Arthur attributes today's political turbulence in the United States and Europe to chasms between elites and the rest of society. Later this century, society will figure out how to disperse the productive benefits of technology for two reasons: it will be easier, and it will be necessary. Technology will eventually enable more creation with less sacrifice. Meanwhile, history suggests that concentrating money in too few hands creates social pressures that must be addressed by politics, violence, or both.

Technology has shifted a growing fraction of people away from the production of living necessities, particularly since the Industrial Revolution. While many individuals continue to battle for existence on a daily basis, a diminishing percentage of humanity is thus afflicted. Work will increasingly hum along without us as AI and robotic systems become far more capable and committed, possibly achieving what John Maynard Keynes described in Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren as technological unemployment, in which innovation replaces human labour faster than we discover new jobs. Keynes projected that this was simply a "temporary phase of maladjustment," and that within a century, humanity would have overcome its fundamental economic difficulty and be free of the biological necessity of labour.

What will we do when our robots relieve us of even more responsibilities? This will be the defining question of the twenty-first century.

The definition of artificial intelligence

John McCarthy, the father of AI, created the term "artificial intelligence." Artificial intelligence is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as "the theory and development of computer systems capable of performing activities ordinarily requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and language translation." Artificial intelligence (AI) is a broad field of computer science whose goal is to create computers that can act autonomously and intelligently. It is an intelligent computer capable of thinking, understanding, and acting on its own, as well as replicating certain human behaviours. As a result, Artificial Intelligence is a system that can and will solve problems that humans would ordinarily solve using our natural intelligence. To elaborate, AI development aims to address the need for and desire for automation in today's fast-paced human life. Artificial intelligence (AI) is now being used to do routine or even complex jobs.

How exactly Automation Will Change the Work that we do?

While we are still a long way from a world when machines would replace all working people, according to new McKinsey & Co. research, 45 percent of labour functions may be automated with existing technologies.

According to the researchers, blue-collar jobs aren't the only ones at risk of metamorphosis or extinction. Of course, humans will remain a part of the equation: automation will help people work smarter and create new types of workers.

"Automation comes in strange ways and is frequently so blindingly clear that we don't even see it as we adapt," says Jeremy Carey-Dressler, automation engineer and proprietor of Meridian, Idaho-based Eternal Blue Software.

Take, for example, ATMs, which have mostly supplanted bank tellers, or apps that offer airline boarding cards. Furthermore, today's computer algorithms can analyse data and generate full newspaper stories in minutes. IBM Watson, for example, functions as a cognitive assistant, employing "natural language processing and machine learning to discover insights from enormous volumes of unstructured data," according to IBM.

According to McKinsey analysts, even individuals in the highest-paid occupations, such as financial planners, physicians, and senior executives, may automate a large portion of their tasks by leveraging current technologies. "For example, we estimate that utilising existing technologies, activities spending more than 20% of a CEO's working time could be automated." According to the McKinsey report, "they include assessing reports and data to influence operational choices, making staff assignments, and reviewing status reports."

What Changes Can Be Expected?

According to KPMG, more organizations are investing in artificial intelligence, often known as cognitive computing. In fact, a 2013 McKinsey Global Institute study found that robotic process automation might affect 100 million global knowledge jobs by 2025.

However, Sheri Feinzig, director of strategy for IBM's Smarter Workforce Institute, believes that such tools should be viewed as improving rather than replacing humans.

"Advanced analytics technologies, for example, can do a great job of absorbing and analyzing massive volumes of data and detecting relationships in the data," she explains. "However, not all of those relationships will be relevant, actionable, or casual in character." By swiftly and efficiently revealing these observable links, the human decision-maker is able to assess what makes sense, what is valuable, and what can be acted upon. The human is still required as part of the decision-making process.``

According to Cliff Justice, a principal at KPMG, "process automation can liberate employees from rules-based responsibilities by computerizing steady, predictable activity." However, for process automation and cognitive technologies like IBM Watson to truly replace human labour, they must combine. This convergence of advances is resulting in cognitive automation—or smart robotics—which has the potential to automate new classes of knowledge labour."

A new way of working

James Wallace, co-founder of Exponential Ventures, envisions an automated future that rejects the concept of labour entirely. Wallace believes that through embracing automation and high technology, people will be able to generate their own income. This would eliminate the necessity for a traditional, hierarchical organization.

"We're experiencing regrettable but necessary agony," Wallace explained. "The discussion should centre on how to alleviate those developing pains." The reality is that the end result of automation will be tremendously beneficial to everyone."

He stated that the economic insecurity felt by displaced labour is definitely real, but that automation is not the enemy. Instead, Wallace aims to educate individuals on how to use this powerful technology to generate their own money, thereby creating a society of entrepreneurs and small businesses.

"If we can build a means to ensure that we all have enough food, clothing, and shelter to survive... and allow individuals to repurpose their skills, unique abilities, and enable them to proliferate that and sell it as a good or a service," Wallace added. "If we can develop a way for individuals to make revenue for close to nothing, why not teach them to embrace the technology that disrupted the marketplace in the first place and use it for something more in accordance with who they are, as an expression of their particular abilities?"

Automation for increased efficiency and profit

The bottom line of business process automation is, ironically, the bottom line. Process automation saves time and allows resources to be diverted elsewhere. It means that businesses can remain smaller and more adaptable.

Increased efficiency, productivity, and lower expenses all lead to higher profit margins for firms of all sizes. The amount to which automation alters the economy as a whole remains to be seen, but it is inevitable that we will see greater automation in the future.


The workplace in the twenty-first century is already a wild ride, but it's possible—perhaps even likely—that the changes will accelerate. What is the finest advice? Put on your thinking cap, prioritize adaptability, and never stop learning and growing.

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