Will Your Job Get Eaten by Automation?
With the rapid growth of technology, it has been widely contested whether automation will start to replace jobs. Automation is not a new concept; automated processes have changed farming and manufacturing for over 50 years. However, it is only recently that computer programs have been able to perform tasks commonly referred to as skilled labor. In the field of financial technology, many of us are aware of the strides online wealth managers have made in automating investing and financial planning.
Despite what it may seem, online wealth management companies do not intend to replace traditional client-facing financial advisors, however they have made advisory services more accessible to the middle class. With a wealth of disruptive technology emerging daily, reports suggest white-collar jobs from financial services to medicine may soon be replaced by robots. In the history of the U.S. economy, the adoption of new technology does not support claims of having negative effects on the labor market.Effect on Labor Market
The story of automation replacing jobs is nothing new. It dates back to the advent of machinery and as early as the tractor or steam machine. As machinery has continued to grow more sophisticated, many manual jobs have been replaced. It is not until recently that technology and programming has grown so sophisticated that technical, white-collar jobs could be replaced. Of the most technical careers, robots and automation have and will continue to affect accounting, lawyers, financial services and medicine.
Suffice to say, many jobs in these fields will not be replaced altogether; however, they will become more accessible to individuals who previously could not afford these services. As is well known, machines are better at rules and routines while people are better at directing and motivating. Following this logic, accounting and the law profession would benefit a great deal from automation and machine learning. Both professions abide by stringent rules, procedures and precedence; whether it is GAAP or state laws. Rather than replace these professions, they will become more efficient; allowing accountants and lawyers the time to service more clients. (For more, see: Is Automation Destroying Intellectual Jobs?)History of Automation and Employment
For centuries, automated machinery has played a role in creating efficiency in the labor market. Contrary to popular belief, technology has not replaced labor but enhanced it. By replacing unskilled labor, workers have been able to adapt to more technical processes and driven economic growth. Throughout technological innovation, automation has not been a contributor to unemployment. If anything, automation has had positive economic and social benefits. It has facilitated global competition, increased employment and productivity even in the most affected industries.The Future of Automation
Up until this point automation has enhanced the efficiency predominantly in manual work. Machines follow predetermined rules to create faster means of production; allowing humans to audit processes and use their skills elsewhere. However, as technology progresses, machines will soon be composed of artificial intelligence. The recent resurgence of artificial intelligence will produce machines with cognitive capabilities comparable to human intelligence. The AI enhanced machines will soon be able to sense, comprehend, act on their own, and adapt to ever-changing scenarios. In this situation, technical professions such as software developers and engineers will become more prominent. (For more, see: Investors Turn to Artificial Intelligence.)
The labor market has already begun to transition in this direction. Companies are continually in demand for development and coding skills as the landscape of many industries continue to transform. With advances in artificial intelligence, professions requiring heavy analysis will be susceptible to computer replacement. This includes the aforementioned law, accounting and financial services careers. Human involvement will still remain essential for those who prefer human contact over automation. (For more, see: Top 5 Coding Camps To Launch Your Career.)The Bottom Line
The rapid advances in technology have caused many skeptics to envision a future where computers replace both blue collar and white-collar jobs. Historically, computers have created more efficient environments where manual work is necessary. However, with many recent developments in automation and artificial intelligence there remains a level of uncertainty amongst highly skilled laborers. Despite growing concerns, it still remains to be seen whether a computer can replace skilled labor.