The Robots Are Coming … (From the FastFulcrum Archives)

… the robots are coming.

One if by land, two if by sea, three if by autonomous unmanned aerial drone, four if by Internet, five if by …

All right, all right … number four doesn’t quite work as a robot can’t physically transmit itself through the Internet (yet) to show up at your workplace, ready and very, very able to take over many of the tasks you perform … perhaps even completely replace you in your job.

On the other hand, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) could certainly wriggle its way through the Internet, primed to take over your precious white collar job … you know, the one you went to college for?  The one that cost so much in student loans?  Yeah, that one.  Many of the tasks you routinely perform (the ones you most loudly grouse about to anyone who will listen) can probably be automated and performed by an algorithm … and it will most likely do a better job than you will, without all the annoyance that employing a human brings. No offense.

Why will many lose jobs to AI/Robots (or AIR, as I’ve come to call them)?  Simply put, AIR is cheaper and better at executing a rapidly increasing number of tasks that we carbon-based meatbots currently perform for that ever-elusive little abstraction we call “money”.  AIR can work around the clock without missing a productive beat … employers won’t have to worry about it giving in to sleep deprivation-based hallucinations or whether they’re breaking any pesky labor laws.  AIR won’t even expect overtime pay or comp time.  Nor will AIR need health and retirement benefits, or paid time off.   Workman’s comp lawsuits?  Not happening.  Even taking all this into consideration, there’s still more upside from an employer’s perspective … AIR won’t take smoke breaks, surf the Internet, call in sick or come in hung way over.  It won’t get hair or other bodily secretions in prepared food (intentionally or otherwise).  It just won’t.

Anyway, you get the drift.  The robots are coming … AIR is coming.  Not for your lives – again, yet – but instead for our jobs, or at the very least for a significant chunk of the activities that compose our jobs today.
Internalizing this concept and viscerally grasping it as truth is difficult. This is the domain of science fiction, especially to anyone old enough to remember a world without the Internet, smartphones and the impossibility of having a discussion about driverless cars with a straight face.  We’re living in a science fiction world, now.  As such, we’re operating with a serious handicap – we’ve been culturally conditioned to relegate anything we consider to be science fiction to the category of “just a story – no real threat, here”.  So when we hear the media discussing this issue we snort and dismiss it as bullshash.

Our reluctance to acknowledge this impending threat to our livelihoods is amplified by the fact that most of us have not yet been displaced by AIR, nor do we know anyone who has.  That, coupled with our tendency to believe that if this actually does go down, it won’t hit us … it will hit the other guy, but certainly not us and our jobs.  Nope.  We’re special.  We offer that certain je ne sais quoi that just can’t be duplicated by a machine.
Taken whole hog, this denial-based thinking is both colossally incorrect and potentially dangerous.  If you think this is all fiction and/or that you’re safe and special, you aren’t on the lookout when the Terminator or one of his ilk body-checks you into the nearest brick wall and swipes your job – and the associated income.

We’re not dealing with science fiction, here.  This is not pretend-play make believe that we can shrug off.  This is an oncoming crapstorm laced with razor-wire that will affect us all to some extent, one way or another.
We can’t legislate it away … the realities of global business necessitate the use of advanced technologies in order to remain competitive and economically viable.  AIR is one such technology.

Regardless of the color of our collar – blue or white, grubby or clean – AIR is currently capable of performing many activities associated with our occupation.  And its capabilities are growing daily.

What does this mean to us, the human workforce?  The answer is simple, but not easy.  We will have to evolve in order to survive on this new terrain.
What skills will we need to develop?  Against what ever-changing working world will we have to apply these new skills?  How often will we have to modify these new skills to respond to new environmental variables?  How often will we have to chuck ’em completely and adopt entirely new skills?
All relevant questions.  The consideration of these questions, let alone acting on them, is exhausting.  However, this is a challenge we must accept … we have no choice.

So what is FastFulcrum and how does it factor in to this dynamic of AIR?
FastFulcrum means ‘a quick and speedy pivot, being willing and able to turn on a dime and evolve in response to rapidly emerging and changing challenges’.  In your face, Merriam-Webster.

FastFulcrum is also a place where people can visit to catch the latest news on developments concerning Artificial Intelligence/Robotics, viewed through the context of potential displacement; that is, what are these new instances of the “bright and shinys”, how will they affect us and how can we evolve in response?  FastFulcrum will develop into a community, because the only way through something is forward, and the best way to move forward is together.

The robots are coming.  What are we going to do about it?

Do you want to Remain Relevant in the Age of Automation?  If so, please have a look at the FastFulcrum courses that provide the substrate skills needed to do so:

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