Will a robot take my work?

Artificial intelligence is becoming more and more advanced, but humans still do some jobs better than robots.

Martin SpanoMartin Spano (Source: Courtesy of Martin Spano)

Martin Spano is the author of Artificial Intelligence in a Nutshell, a book that explores the mystified subject of artificial intelligence (AI) with simple, non-technical language. Spano’s passion for AI began after he watched 2001: A Space Odyssey, but he insists this ever-changing technology is not just the subject of sci-fi novels and movies; artificial intelligence is present in our everyday lives.

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One of the most common questions I get during lectures is whether and when artificial intelligence will take over our work. Employees ask me this, but entrepreneurs also want to know how to increase the productivity of their employees. They are looking for ways to avoid being replaced by robots while still bringing some added value to the company.

AI can't replace teachers

Since the industrial revolution, machines have begun to replace people at work. So far, however, people have always managed to successfully retrain; new professions have emerged that machines could not perform. But in the last decade, we have seen something exceptional. While machines used to replace mainly manual work, advances in artificial intelligence have put office occupations at risk. The discussion was further sparked by the study "The future of work: How much will automation threaten individual professions?", published in 2013 by Michael Osborn and Carl Benedikt Frey. Its conclusion was that current advances in artificial intelligence threaten almost half of the professions.

At first glance, it looks threatening. However, if you look at the study in more detail, you will find that only some jobs will be completely replaced. There will be many more that will not disappear; only their individual parts will be automated. I am very happy to use the teaching profession as an example. Most teachers like their profession, but they are probably less likely to correct paperwork, which is a very lifeless activity. Artificial intelligence will be able to do this in a short time. The teaching profession will not cease to exist because of this. On the contrary, teachers will be able to focus on the more interesting parts of this profession than the preparation of the curriculum, so that it is as interesting as possible for students.

How endangered is my profession?

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Recently, in cooperation with the professional portal Kariéra, I analysed the most common occupations in Slovakia. Jobs in transport, logistics and assistant positions are most at risk. On the contrary, teachers, medical and social professions are least likely to be replaced by robots.

What can we do to keep our human application in the fields of the future?

In short, it is necessary to remain human and develop skills that artificial intelligence will not have for a long time. This is a list of the qualities of a future worker, which I call the ten skills for the future:

  • creativity
  • empathy
  • emotional intelligence
  • social intelligence
  • versatility
  • adaptability
  • critical thinking
  • interest in the latest technologies
  • presentation skills
  • fundamentals of computer science and programming (Python)

As an avid programmer and Pythonist, I couldn't forgive skill number ten. But that's really the case, because I think programming is the mathematics of the 21st century.

Read moreArtificial Intelligence (Not Only) for Business: What is Artificial Intelligence? Read more 

Many people tend to refer to the "good old days" when they didn't need so much technique. In fact, in a way, they might prefer to stop progress. When I meet such a person, I always tell them the following story:

One of the most famous American economists of all time, Milton Friedman, visited an Asian country in the 1960s. Local officials showed him one construction site on which the canal was being built. To his surprise, he noticed that instead of modern tractors and excavators, the workers had dug with shovels. Asked why so few machines are being used, the government bureaucrat replied: "You don't understand at all. That's employment policy, after all.” After Friedman received this surprising response, he responded, "I thought you wanted to build a canal. If you are looking for a job, why not give those workers a spoon? ”

Progress cannot be stopped, and we certainly wouldn't want that either. After all, technology brings us more benefits than worries.

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