As automation becomes more and more prevalent, it’s easy to see why so many people are becoming worried that they’ll be replaced by robots. With the two biggest states in the union calling for driverless cars now, many in the transportation industry are worried that they’re going to be put out of work.
The biggest problem for transport industry workers is that with this new technology, the benefits far outweigh the harms if we’re looking simply at scale. In the public sector, tens of thousands of lives could be saved every year from preventable car crashes if automated cars were on the road, not to mention the number of those left injured and disabled. On top of that, the commercial uses mean that drivers won’t show up to work drunk or tired, and that the decision making and reaction skills of even the most competent human drivers will be challenged. Plus robots don’t require a salary.
Not Just a Car Problem
The problems that the transportation industry faces now is the same that industries across the world will face in the very near future. In fact, it’s not that far out there to think that the automotive industry will begin a spiral that affects industries tangential to it. For example, everybody knows the value of a good auto body shop because accidents are so common in our world–but what happens when those shops lose business because robot cars negate accidents? What happens to the $200 billion/year auto insurance industry when people begin to realize that the chances of getting in an accident on the road with automated vehicles is nearly non-existent?
The point is this: automation will come to affect your industry at some point, no matter what it is. The only thing that the jobs market can do is to make sure that they are prepared. For example, those in the auto industry know how to do more than just drive and react to stimuli. The best of the best will know which routes are the fastest, even if the computer tells them otherwise. This is because they have real world experience and intuition and are able to adapt to change beyond a limited data set. This is something human beings are uniquely good at and that automated robots are going to take long time to catch up on.
Flex Your Brain Muscles
Rote and mechanical activities are what machines are great at. The computing power doesn’t exist to cheaply deploy multiple super-thinking robots, so the good news is that employees simply have to be smarter than their mechanical counterparts. Ton Dobbe of Unit4 wrote a piece titled “The Social Implications of Upskilling as Robots Take Over” and it he describes upskilling as “improving the current skill sets of employees so that they can thrive in an environment where automation handles most low-skill duties.” Essentially what he’s saying is that mechanical muscle is here to do every, and the robots have that on lockdown. Human beings have to flex their brains muscles more and more if they truly plan on succeeding in the world of work.
Get Excited for Challenging Change
It might not sound natural at first, but getting excited for change and tackling it head on is one of the only healthy ways to approach automation, because the fact is, automation is happening. It will definitely change the way that our world works and will disrupt it further. There probably will be winners and losers–but the good news is that they’ll be defined by how they approach this challenge. There is no magical solution that will present itself. Each of these cases will have to be approached from an angle unique to the industry, and will require no lack of intelligence and innovation.
Fortunately, for now, machines don’t have the ability to creatively innovate. That skill is still uniquely human, which is why we should be all the more proud to flex it–not to mention it’s probably the only thing that will save you your job in the future.