Humans – a show on Channel 4 (UK) that was aired a few months ago and was based on Swedish science-fiction drama, Äkta Människor. Set in the near-future, the show focuses on ‘Synths’ – highly advanced robots that have been developed by ‘Persona Synthetics’, whose tagline is ‘Closer to Humans than Ever Before’. These ‘Synths’ have become commonplace, with the show examining their impact on society and, of course, on humans.
Throughout the series, we are shown that these ‘Synths’ have taken over many jobs including carers, career officers, 911 responders and even surgeons. As Mattie Hawkins, a human on the show who believes that ‘Synths’ will render humans as irrelevant, highlights: “It would take me seven years to become a doctor, but by then you’d be able to turn any old synth into a brain surgeon in seven seconds.” These ‘Synths’ have the ability to learn all of the skills for a variety of roles – a lot faster than humans ever could, as they also have the ability to ‘share data’ with each other.
There has always been a concern that technology drastically impacts society – you only need to look back in history to see the effects of technological advancement. The boom of America in the 1920s, for example. Yes – the new technology that was available allowed businesses to increase production and was one of the significant factors that led to the American boom. However, new machinery meant that the fewer people were needed on the assembly line.
Not only that, but according to a survey conducted by Harris, it was discovered that more than 20% of the 2000 hiring managers and HR professionals that were surveyed, reported that they had replaced workers with automated technologies and that the fields that will most likely be affected in the future are: customer service, IT, accounting and finance, production, shipping, distribution and sales.
Now, I’m not suggesting that robots will take over the world any time soon, but with the growth of the Internet of Things, alongside studies conducted by Oxford University, which have suggested that in a decade or two, 35% of existing jobs are at risk of automation – is there a risk that the Humans storyline could be a reality, sooner than you think?
Robots – not the automaton that you’re thinking of. More…automation?
A few weeks ago, the BBC published an article titled ‘Will a robot take your job?’ I am pleased to announce that my role (for the moment), is safe, with an automation risk of 33% – ie, not very likely.
Unfortunately, these were the top 10 jobs that were given a high automation risk:
- Telephone salesperson
- Typist or related keyboard worker
- Legal secretary
- Financial accounts manager
- Weigher, grader or sorter
- Routine inspector and tester
- Sales administrator
- Book-keeper, payroll manager or wages clerk,
- Finance Officer
- Pensions and insurance clerk
It is clear from this list that many of these jobs are very data-centric and it can be argued that with the large amounts of data that machines can now access and process in a shorter amount of time; this is what makes these and other jobs like it, vulnerable to automation.
As machines become more complex and their capabilities become more advanced and everything becomes more automation based; it stands to reason that, maybe sooner than you think, these machines might just take over. And the possibilities are endless.