As I am sitting at work messing with some Office365 settings I get word that the company is liquidating 12 positions. Most of the jobs were receptionist, clerks, and assistants. Not that the position matters. It still sucks and I would hate to be walking out the door in those shoes. But I can understand why it happens. A business must cut cost and trim away inefficiencies to survive. Unless of course, you’re the government.
How Technology is Replacing Jobs
That event got me thinking about technology replacing jobs. Just 10 years ago we did not have smartphones, fast internet or a user base that knew how to work computers. Now a lot of the old timers have retired and the new generation is embracing technology to help them do their job. Personal assistants, clerks, and receptionist are being replaced by automated systems and easier to use software.
So, what does that mean for IT people? I have already seen the landscape change. You can no longer make a living by switching out hard drives and installing operating systems. Anyone with internet access and a little determination could do that. Helpdesk jobs could almost be replaced today as well. As AI gets better I wonder if the guys and gals sitting at a desk answering calls for help will be replaced with a digital assistant like Siri. I don’t think it is a question of if it will happen but a question of when it will happen.
The Future with Artificial Intelligence
The potential for AI is great. I have often wondered how many jobs AI and robotics could replace. In the IT world, it is easy to imagine an operating system with a built in AI that could just fix any software problem it is having. We also already see computers taking orders and payments at restaurants. How big of a leap would it be for them to cook the food as well? There is also talk of commercial airlines using AI to pilot planes and we have also already seen AI driving cars and tractor trailers in controlled test. Maybe the best thing anyone can do to avoid being replaced is to keep improving yourself and moving up in skill level.
I guess this is how history has always gone. New technology has been replacing jobs since the industrial revolution and maybe longer. But with new technology, there also comes new jobs. Just don’t ask me what these new jobs would be. If AI ever gets to human level intelligence maybe this will be the first-time new technology will not bring new jobs? Maybe there will not be any more entry level positions for the kid just out of school? But maybe AI will be a good teaching tool to help us all reach a higher level? Or maybe it will just enslave us all because even the engineers that design AI do not understand how it makes decisions. I guess time will tell.