4th Industrial Revolution: What it means for jobs

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One sportswriter began an article describing the game like this:

“Things looked bleak for the Angles when they trailed down by two runs in the ninth inning, but LA recovered thanks to a key single from Vladimir Guerrero to pull out a 7-6 victory over the Boston Red Sox.

Guerrero drove in two Angels runners. He went 2-4 at the plate. “When it comes down to honouring Nick Adenhart, and what happened in April in Anaheim, yes, it probably was the biggest hit [of my career],” Guerrero said. “Because I’m dedicating that to a former teammate, a guy that passed way.”

The author of that text is probably in no immediate danger of receiving any awards for his writing.

The narrative is nonetheless a remarkable achievement: not because it is readable, grammatically correct, and an accurate description of the baseball game, but because the author is a computer program.

A computer software called StatsMonkey is designed to automate sports reporting by transforming objective data about a particular game into a compelling narrative. Through big data and artificial intelligence, computers are not programmed to write articles on their own.

Machine learning algorithms based on the same basic principles recommend books on Amazon, people you may know on Facebook.

Apple’s Siri is able to recognize speech and respond, sometimes with some sense of humor.

Today you can do a bank deposit and even apply for a loan at an ATM,  transfer money via ewallet, cash-send, Mpesa. You can do most of  your banking online, your phone or tablet, you don’t have to go into a bank, complete a deposit slip, queue and then transact with someone behind the counter. Overtime the demand for bank tellers will reduce. In fact there is a recent article about FNB retrenching about 600 staff due to digital banking.

When you call big organizations, you are likely to be answered by a computer program asking you to choose various options in order to re-route you to the right department. The switchboard operator has been eliminated.

Today you can draft a basic contract online by answering certain questions, you don’t have to pay a lawyer to draft a basic contract.

With major cities offering free wifi, this renders a lot of internet cafe less useful.

Today you can take a photo of your ID, and email it using my phone to apply for a job.

Advanced computer softwares are able to estimate a pregnant woman’s due date and gender of a child with a high degree to accuracy.

In 1997 IBM’s Deep Blue computer defeated world chess champion Garry Kasparov in a six-game match demonstrating that machines are developing so fast that they threaten to be smarter than humans.

Operating a vending machine is better than running a small cafe, when you have a vending machine you save on huge rental, you don’t have to pay labour and there is no theft by customers and employees.

In an effort to cut costs, companies globally are engineering labour out of the product. Machines don’t go on strike demanding increased wages, machines don’t call in sick on Monday, machines don’t complain about poor working conditions, companies can’t be blamed from running sweatshop like factories.

 

Computers are no longer only waiting to be given commands of what to do, instead, computers are able to think on their own.

Often when we talk about the 4th Industrial Revolution and the proliferation of technology and machines, we tend to refer to machines replacing lower level blue collar workers. The 4th Industrial Revolution will also impact knowledge white collar jobs as well.

If there is one myth regarding computer technology that ought to be swept into the dustbin it is the pervasive believe that computers can do only what they are specifically programmed to do.

Today machine learning algorithms routinely churn through data, revealing statistical relationships, and in essence, writing their own programs on the basis of what they discover.

Machines are starting to demonstrate curiosity and creativity.

Big data, internet of things and predictive algorithms have the potential to transform the nature and number of knowledge-based jobs in organisations and industries across the board.

The predictions that can be extracted from data will increasingly be used to substitute for human qualities such as experience and judgement. 

As top managers increasingly employ data-driven decision making powered by automated tools, there will be an ever shrinking need for an extensive human analytic and management infrastructure.

Whereas today there is a team of knowledge workers who collect information and present analysis to multiple levels of management, eventually there may be a single manager and a powerful algorithm.

Organisations are likely to flatten.

Layers of middle management will evaporate, and many  of the jobs now performed by both clerical workers and skilled analysts will simply disappear.

Industry 4.0 is more than just a flashy catchphrase. A confluence of trends and technologies promises to reshape the way things are made.

The future is certainly going to be very different to the current.

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About Roche Mamabolo

Entrepreneur, Author, Dad. Passionate about Innovation and Creativity, Books, Poetry, Traveling, Theatre, Art, Music.
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One Response to 4th Industrial Revolution: What it means for jobs

  1. This is quite scary…

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