How Not To Lose Your Job To Automation

There is a growing trend of people losing their jobs or simply becoming irrelevant in the face of growing automation. It seems as if computers and software are taking over all the job functions and soon there will be no work left for anyone to do.

So how do you know if your job or skillset will be secure in the near future?

That leads to another question: How much value are you really adding through your work? You need to be honest in answering this question. If you are not really adding value to your organization, or to the world around you, then you are not  making any difference to anyone or anything. Tomorrow if you leave , nobody will notice that you have gone because you were never there anyway.

If you feel you are adding value with your work, then the next question is :Can automation provide the same value? If the answer is no, then congratulations! you have nothing to worry. Your job description is not going to go away anytime soon.  If your answer is yes, then it means that even though you are adding value, it is not valuable enough to keep your job safe. Something else or someone else can easily provide the same value and then you will be out of the market.

The good news is that , no matter what situation you find yourself in, you can take steps to ensure that you don’t become obsolete or irrelevant in today’s professional environment. And I will show you how.

The biggest stumbling block is the belief that computers are smarter than people. That hype is completely mistaken and creates a fear which is unwarranted. I write software for a living and I can tell with surety that computers are dumb. They will only do exactly what you tell them to do. Even a five -year-old has more intelligence than the biggest supercomputer on earth. What computers have is speed. They can do things much faster then any human. That speed gives the illusion of intelligence. If I tell you to multiply a random 5 digit number with another 5 digit number and you give me an answer instantly , I will think you are very smart, even if the answer is wrong.

You have to give up the idea that computers are smarter than people. People have always been and always will be more smart than machines.

In other words, regardless of your education level or cultural background, you are more intelligent than a computer. So what is intelligence anyway?

Intelligence is

  • NOT speed,
  • NOT the ability to process data in fraction of a second
  • NOT efficiency
  • NOT optimization

Intelligence is

  • All the things which cannot be stored in terms of bits and bytes
  • All the things that cannot be converted into algorithms
  • The ability to arrive at complex decisions without processing data
  • Experience and wisdom
  • The ability to feel things, situations
  • The ability to doubt
  • The ability to imagine

You cannot beat a computer at its game by trying to go faster. That will never work because you will never be as fast as a computer. But you can beat it at other things which are shown above. How do you bring about that kind of intelligence into your occupation? By putting in an extraordinary amount of time and effort in taking your expertise to the next level. It requires total dedication and commitment on your part. If you are just passing time in your job, then obviously this approach will never work for you. It all comes down to how motivated you are about what you do. Your motivation has to be really strong and stable if you want to excel at what you do. Everybody has different reasons for choosing a job or profession. You have to find yours.  You have to bring in emotion and passion into your work. Only then it will shine. Let me give you a great real-word example:

London cab drivers have to undergo a rigorous learning program called The Knowledge. This program was created in the 1800s and is active even today. What this program does is that it takes a cab driver and makes him memorise , organise and understand the entire route map of London in his head. London is a very old city and its a very large city. It is about 607 sq.miles in area. There are lanes connected to each other at odd angles and its basically a huge maze of streets. Consequently its not easy to learn The Knowledge – it takes a cab driver 4 years to master it and then he has to take a series of oral tests before he can claim that he has mastered the streets of London.

So the question is why would a London cab driver want to put in so time and effort in learning a city map when an Uber or Ola or any other online cab service can do the same thing with a mobile phone and GPS? After all ,even a person who is not familiar with the city can find his way using Google Maps.  The answer is simple. With his 4 years of intense study, a London cab driver can beat any GPS system hands down. He can find the shortest and most efficient route much better than any software or artificial intelligence. Due to his holistic understanding of the entire city map and after actually driving through its streets, he  knows lanes and streets and connections which no satellite map can point out. He knows instinctively which routes to avoid in which times of the day due to traffic congestion. He even knows where a passenger wants to really go, even when the passenger is not sure of the address himself.

He undergoes this training because he knows that this is what makes his job future-proof. He knows that with his superior knowledge and understanding of the streets, he can never be replaced by any automated cab service. Best of all, he feels a sense of pride in saying that he has mastered The Knowledge.

This is exactly what I am trying to tell here. If you are willing to put in extraordinary effort and time into your profession, then you are bringing in an enormous amount of value to the people around you. You have nothing to fear from automation or computers. What you should fear is being lazy. What you should fear is underestimating your own capabilities.

You need to raise the bar for yourself. You have to raise it so high that nobody and nothing will be able to touch you.

(Featured photo by Jaanus Jagomägi)

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