Can smart machines do your job?

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  • 3

    SimondB

    “A pilotless airliner is going to come; it’s just a question of when,” James Albaugh, retired CEO of Boeing Commercial Airlines

    No, the real question is will anyone want to travel on it.

    I don't find this steady march of technology so scarey as it has been happening since the year dot. In my relatively short life span I've seen many changes. I learnt to type on a typewriter. I worked at a place where we had a typing pool. Important people felt they needed fax machines in their car. Cell phones were the size of house bricks. You had to get out of your chair to change the TV channel. Electronic ping pong machines in pubs were the must have craze. Black and white TV. Milk delivered to your door. Live football on TV was a very, very special occasion. Air travel was fun even if you so rarely did it. Pirate Radio.

    In another 50 or 60 years people will look back at the present time as the good old days when life was so much simpler.

  • 2

    paulinusa

    $67,000 for reading meters? A pretty descent salary for a job I thought wouldn't pay half that.

  • 0

    Wakarimasen

    Terminator time. The machines are taking over.

  • 1

    tkoind2

    What is really taking over is greed. More profits, more profits and "to hell with the middle class" thinking. While technology is all great and well, we have to also think about what happens to a society with a gutted middle class? These are the people who buy everything from products to services. When they have no money, the knock on impact upon other sectors will be extreme.

    Imagine for a moment your local secretary who is now out of work. She no longer can afford the clothing, the nights out for dinner, the nice salon, the nail place, the shoe shop, the travel she used to take, the new items for home, and her latest device. That means those shops are now faced with declining clients and a need to reduce staff. Some will fail impacting the land lord they rent from. And it goes on.

    We have to be thinking about social considerations and how they will model our future society. A society of very rich and very poor? Or a society with a middle class?

  • 1

    wipeout

    “A pilotless airliner is going to come; it’s just a question of when,” James Albaugh, retired CEO of Boeing Commercial Airlines, said in 2011, according to IEEE Spectrum magazine. “You’ll see it in freighters first, over water probably, landing very close to the shore.”

    Patrick Smith, of Ask the Pilot fame, is worth reading on the subject. He does a very good job of explaining why it's not very likely, and also why it's not very desirable.

  • 1

    Frungy

    This article is a bit one-sided, for example:

    do a lot of what we used to think of as HR

    HR used to be shuffling leave forms, time sheets and conducting job interviews. In many countries it never advanced past this. Now modern HR practitioners project human resource requirements (in terms of people and skills), generate and supervise job assessments (a tricky task that no computer could do since it involves balancing so many intangibles like motivation and job-specific measures) , and most importantly organise career path planning so that people don't end up redundant when their old job is taken over by a computer or robot, but rather the employee has been reskilled so that they can perform a new task.

    Of course in the U.S. the old "use 'em, abuse 'em and lose 'em" philosophy still applies, and HR is in the stone-age, but in many European countries this guy who's losing his job to an electronic monitoring system could sue the company for not, over the years, providing him with the training necessary to transition to another job like maintaining those machines, or doing something else in the company.

    Humans are endlessly flexible and compared to robots we're very cheap to reskill. Try taking a 5 year old robot and teaching it to do something new... it simply can't handle the new software and is outdated. Take an employee who's been with the company for 5 years and you can teach them a new job in a couple of weeks, less if its something related to what they've been doing for years.

    Japanese companies have done the math and that's why there's so much on-the-job training and multi-skilling in Japanese companies, they want flexible employees who can fit into any job and work for their whole lives, not a robot that can only do one job for a few years and then needs to be replaced.

  • 1

    Serrano

    "Everything that humans can do a machine can do"

    Really! OK, then where are all the machine-designed machines?

    And where is the machine that can flutter its eyes as well as Norika Fujiwara?

  • 0

    Frungy

    SerranoJan. 29, 2013 - 09:56PM JST "Everything that humans can do a machine can do" Really! OK, then where are all the machine-designed machines?

    I missed this line. Well, when machines are creative and capable of adapting to new and unprogrammed parameters maybe we'll be obselete, but until then we've still got the edge.

  • 0

    Jaymann

    My Job? No. Your job? maybe, probably....

  • -2

    TheInterstat

    I see no issue with any of this. Survival of the fittest, and all that. What I do see, and this is focused toward Japan, is an increasing risk of becoming unemployable if one is not savvy with 'the machines'. Japan resists technology like nowhere else I have been in the modern world, but eventually they will have to submit. It is happening now, with the kids knowing more than the adults.

    I enjoy watching it crumble, to be honest, as the alternative is to just learn how to use a very easy system designed to be used by humans.

  • 1

    Xeno23

    If they replace my staff with machines and/or robots, then replacing me is a slam-dunk - in fact, they wouldn't even need to replace me; my job would be unnecessary!

  • 1

    SimondB

    Japan resists technology like nowhere else I have been in the modern world - Theinterstat

    What a strange statement. Perhaps their are two Japans and you and I have visited different one each. Because the Japan I know tends to lead the world in embracing and continually developing new technology.

  • 0

    megosaa

    Can smart machines do your job?

    not now, i don't think. but knowing how fast technology is I'm sure they will one day. :-(

  • 2

    Farmboy

    Can smart machines do your job?

    Heck, stupid machines can do my job. I'm just hoping nobody notices.

  • 0

    nandakandamanda

    Now if we could design machines to pay salaries to everyone in the world...

    No? Oh well.

    Machines serve to reward the quickest, cleverest (more devious?) thinkers and cut out the slower and more laid-back types. Once they are set in motion, get dodging, or expect a machine to come munching at your door tomorrow!

  • 0

    Noliving

    No, the real question is will anyone want to travel on it.

    Well seeing as the majority of your flight you are on auto pilot well you already are.

  • 0

    tomatoflight

    We are in for an interesting 2015-2020. Lot of tech in infant stages now will change life as we know it. Funny how we're in 2013 though, and it was thought years ago that life would look like the Jetsons now. Not even close.

  • 0

    wipeout

    Well seeing as the majority of your flight you are on auto pilot well you already are.

    Not really. You're travelling on a plane carrying (usually) two pilots. Even with autopilot engaged, that's very different from travelling on a plane carrying no pilots.

  • 0

    Serrano

    I'll bet a machine wrote and posted this question.

  • 0

    Ranger_Miffy2

    Try having a machine teach English to a classroom of high school or university students. Not going to go well.

  • -2

    Tessa

    I think it's quite feasible. Back in my grandmother's day, women had to spend literally all day keeping up with the laundry, housecleaning, and cooking. Nowadays women (and they are usually women, especially in Japan) can do all of these things with the touch of a button or two.

  • -1

    TheInterstat

    SimondB; there is a niche which makes some decent stuff, but go into any office and you will see Fax machines, a general acceptance by the people working there that pen and paper is better than anything since, and row after row of CRT monitors buzzing away.

  • 0

    wipeout

    SimondB; there is a niche which makes some decent stuff, but go into any office and you will see Fax machines, a general acceptance by the people working there that pen and paper is better than anything since, and row after row of CRT monitors buzzing away.

    In every office I've worked in over the last 5 or 6 years, CRT monitors were long gone. Same applies to every company I interviewed with.

    Every single one.

  • 0

    mlg4035

    Maybe someday they'll come up with a Japanese robot that can actually speak English... Naah...

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