CU Employee

Are our jobs in danger?

This Gartner article discusses the emerging technology RPA (Robotics Process Automation) or "human proxies", that mimic what we do, but do it cheaper, better, and 24/7. One of the primary targeted industries RPA is being developed for is the financial sector.

Ask yourself these three questions in relation to your job (excerpt from the article):

How to Determine Which Activities Are A Good Fit For Robotics?

Since robotics, in theory, can be used for nearly any rules-based process or activity, it can be daunting and difficult to pinpoint where to start. To determine areas that are good candidates for robotics within your finance organization, ask the following questions.

  1. Can the human activity be mapped as a repetitive process (i.e., therefore could be programmed into a robot)?
  2. If the activity requires human judgment or a decision, can a set of rules be defined to cover all possibilities?
  3. Does the activity pull (and put) data from and into the same place every time (i.e., the same field name, same location of the field on a particular screen of an IT system)?

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Replies

  • CU Employee Community Chair

    It’s pretty tough to bet against the likelihood that technology will continue to replace repetitive, non-creative work — given that all the economic incentives are there to reward the most efficient possible means of production over time.

    Some folks are all about “buy American.” Can a well-meaning “buy Human” movement be far away?

    It certainly puts our creativity to the test to imagine a future after a “fourth industrial revolution” where whole new mass categories of activity open up for labor productivity. It certainly wasn’t an easy transition a century or more ago, when farmers traded their fields for factory floors. Maybe, as a society, we can collectively devise a smoother path for folks to travel as they leave their old ways now and migrate to still newer ones. But to check the economic forces at work that invariably nudge us toward ever greater efficiency? It's hard for me to imagine at what cost that would come.

    A lot of the analytics work I'm doing seeks to replace less efficient forms of financial service with more efficient forms, at the risk of jobs on the margin. Is there a moral jeopardy to which I should be more sensitive?

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  • CU Employee

    Perhaps the more important question should be:

    Who is society for?  Already, structural unemployment is rampant and under-employment is even worse.  "We" all just assume that since these technologies benefit the top 5% that the rest of us have to go along with what our betters want for themselves.  The top 5% couldn't care less; middle classes are growing in developing nations and perhaps those gains will more than compensate for the loss of purchasing power in America.  That may or may not sit very well with the bottom 95%.  When you combine endemic job insecurity with the disruptive effects of climate change you're looking either at a revolution or a police state.

    I'm not a Luddite, just a realist.  Even a Basic Guaranteed Income policy is useless if you can't afford to enjoy your copious leisure time.  Instagram, Facebook, and all the rest of our distractions will only take you so far.

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