Humans Need Not Apply: A Sobering Look Into How Robots, Machine Automation Are Destroying Jobs

By    |  August 21, 2014

I suppose, in hindsight, it was just a matter of time.

Robots are officially taking over the world. And no, its not a conspiracy, or a drone army, or a machine uprising – its far more subtle than that. Automation machines are becoming so prevalent across so many industries that they are literally replacing the need for traditional human employees. That’s right: robots are taking your job.

Disappearing Need For Human Workers

The below video, ‘Humans Need Not Apply’ is the latest clip published by CGP Grey, a semi-anonymous internet personality who has built up a rather significant – if perhaps, underground – following over the past few years via Reddit, Twitter, and beyond, due to his fascinating videos that address a wide variety of interesting topics:

One of the key comparisons made in the video is to “Luddite” horses:

Horses aren’t unemployed now because they got lazy as a species, they’re unemployable. There’s little work a horse can do that do that pays for its housing and hay. And many bright, perfectly capable humans will find themselves the new horse: unemployable through no fault of their own.

In September 2013, a study conducted by Oxford University that examined over 700 occupations in the U.S. concluded that 47% of job positions would likely be automated by computers in some form within the next two decades. A similar study conducted in July by a Belgian think tank arrived at similar conclusion in regard to the European economy.

This Time, The Revolution Is Different

“This is an economic revolution. You may think we’ve been here before, but we haven’t. This time is different,” explains Grey in the video. In contrast with past industrial revolutions in human history, which effected low-skilled workers, the “robot” revolution has become so advanced, that now even white-collar workers and highly-educated professionals like doctors or attorneys are already being effected.

The 15 minute clip features Google’s self-driving cars, bots trading in the stock market, and even machines that can write their own classical music.

Bruce Kasanoff, writing for Forbes, reflects on “specialized” skills, quoting from the January 2014 book The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee:

“There’s never been a better time to be a worker with special skills or the right education, because these people can use technology to create and capture value. However, there’s never been a worse time to be a worker with only ‘ordinary’ skills and abilities to offer, because computers, robots and other digital technologies are acquiring these skills and abilities at an extraordinary pace.”

Here’s what I know for sure: each of us is competing against commoditization. I don’t just mean each company or each industry. I mean each person. You. Me. Our roles are being commoditized, and commoditized roles will eventually be automated, because they must be done as cheaply as possible.

Only time will tell which “specialized” skills are safe from bots, if any at all. But one thing is for sure: no matter what your job or skill set of the future might be , it will – in some form or another – rely on machine automation. And that’s a fact.

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