Despite public talks about increasing manufacturing and labor jobs, elected officials are misleading the public and avoiding the hard truths of the elimination of employees due to advances in technology where human functions are replaced by automation. Workplace technology has miraculously expanded from software and robotics to include artificial intelligence such as machine learning. While software and robotics were initially introduced to the workplace to free employees up for more important tasks requiring complex problem solving, artificial intelligence is developing to replace those critical analytic job functions.
A large population of workers spend most of the day leveraging technology using computers, tablets, and smartphones and would be lost if it disappeared from the workplace. We can hardly recall daily life before technology converted the hard and tedious efforts to fast and easy. There is no way to degrade machines and software in our job functions, only leaving the option for them to increase as vital organizational tools.
History of Software
It’s safe to say most people aren’t aware that software was invented before hardware and evolved very quickly after the development of computers – exploding when individuals gained the ability to own personal computers (PCs). This facilitated a huge turning point in employment development from the implementation of software engineering careers to hiring team members to train employees on maximizing the benefits of it. Software programming is so advanced these days that applications or apps (which are condensed versions of software) are almost the default user experience.
Benefits of Robotics
The implementation of robotics in the workplace was intended to protect workers by having machines perform duties that endanger employee’s physical health. Created in 1956, workplace robotics initially began with simple, but hazardous tasks such as spot welding and the success gained from them carrying out these functions led to the development of labor robots. Though not yet sophisticated enough to work along-side humans, organizations benefit from not only using them to fulfill roles that would be dangerous to team members but also to execute repetitive and intense tasks quickly and dependably. (http://smallbusiness.chron.com/robots-used-workplace-12994.html)
In our current workplace environments, we’re utilizing several computer-based and cloud tools to store and analyze data. The innovative idea of using graphics technology to speed up processing functions has evolved to the point that together, accelerated graphics processors and central processing units (CPUs or the brains of a PC), catapults software into a hyper processing mode. This enables programmers to code software that processes unimaginable amounts and types of data simultaneously. The integration of graphics processing units (GPUs) into software engineering is the basis for artificial intelligence.
Once the burgeoning concept of artificial intelligence was introduced to the public as a reality, Stanford University explained it as, the process of creating intelligent programs closely related to that of leveraging computers to disseminate human intelligence without limiting AI to strategies that we readily observe in human behavior. (http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/whatisai/). In many cases, artificial intelligence is replacing repeatable tasks while machine learning is replacing certain aspects of management and decision-making purposes.
Through progress in artificial intelligence, researchers sought to discover if computers could learn from processing data. Adaptation independent of human interaction takes place in machine learning through programmed algorithms that rely on previous computations to produce data learning systems. It’s a science that has gained momentum whereas organizations can now operate more efficiently and secure the competitive advantage in their chosen industry. Machines are now outperforming human learning at phenomenal rates and can provide reliable and consistent answers to complex organizational problems.
Financially lucrative and robust organizations are the first to rely on predictive analytics to figure out their operational future by detecting relationships and patterns in both arranged and disorganized data. The modernized artificial intelligence used in today’s companies is quickly satisfying required functions on the job where making predictions in hiring decisions, revenue projections, team capacity, and employee behaviors are concerned. Predictive analytics is the root cause of rapid decreases in higher paying jobs in ordinary industries such as finance, healthcare, marketing, and more.
Forbes asserts in an article entitled, How Artificial Intelligence Will Impact Jobs, that more than 40% of positions filled by employees will be absorbed by machinery by the year 2037. The article further establishes that about 20% of Americans are aware that they won’t be able to maintain their lifestyle and livelihood once machines have taken their jobs. (https://www.forbes.com/sites/haroldstark/2017/04/28/as-robots-rise-how-artificial-intelligence-will-impact-jobs/#23144d937687). Reliable information is steadily published that clearly informs us that workplaces driven by human effort is becoming outdated as jobs are giving way to technology. We’re facing a future where less than 50% of jobs available now will not exist in roughly 20 years and that alone should be a significant indicator for organizations to act sooner than later.
As we see, most jobs (beyond manufacturing and labor industries) are vulnerable to being replaced by advances in technology. It’s up to organizations to revisit their human resource strategies and decide the best way to transition employees into future positions once they are forced to replace them for the sake of financially sustaining in the economic market. Team members who are willing to embrace and participate in workplace changes through problem-solving are the ones likely to survive the movement to computer-driven labor.
Before the understanding of machine labor results in human resources and other operations managers expecting a doomsday outcome, we must remember that the world is comprised of humans and that society cannot function without us. It’s time for employers to begin strategizing on how to retain the human workforce by diligently maximizing the potential of those already on the payroll and by generating new job roles based on emerging needs. The future of employment depends on forward-thinking shifting from hiring people to do an existing or evolving job to hiring people who possess the fortitude to succeed in new jobs created when computers replace them.