Automation Eliminated Your Job. 5 Tactics to Strike Back.
Half of all the jobs that exist today will be automated within 15 years.
Far-fetched? Imagine this,
In your virtual reality headset blinks a news stream of the Baltimore riot. Opening the feed, you’re immediately thrown into the chaotic surrounding.
You see a rock thrown at you but the drone carrying the 360-degree video feed ducks out of the way at the last second. As you turn around to follow the rock’s trajectory, you see more bottles thrown at you from multiple directions.
Suddenly, the rear half of the video suddenly goes dark as the drone is struck. As the front half of video view swerves left and right, an exacting detail of options to view relative articles on similarly related topics appear on top of the disabled video feed.
The entire experience is provided without a human input. Instead, four algorithms produce the news without interruptions.
- A news algorithm searches for news through social media.
- A report algorithm produces the drone’s video stream.
- A research algorithm handles the deep search of relevant articles.
- A journal algorithm parses the local residents’ responses through instant surveys and email questionnaires.
Would you prefer this type of news reporting without a human, or would you prefer the current personality-driven, sensationalized style of cable news?
The optimistic view is that automation is progress: it provides an extra level of freedom for humans, releasing them from jobs they are not enthusiastic about.
The pessimistic view is that automation is simply another step for corporations to maximize their profits by replacing human labor, leading to further societal regression.
The truth, as always, lies somewhere in between.
“If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.”
To come up with a counter strategy for automation, we must first understand the why, from the business perspective, and the how from the automation process.
Modern Business Strategy
Eric Ries has described four types of work within a modern company:
- operational infrastructure (no tolerance of failure).
- post market-product fit core optimization (avoids failure).
- new strategic initiatives (learns from failure).
- experimental R&D (experiments and produces failure).
The modern company manages itself this way for continuous innovation, which is the only way to sustain growth. In the company of the near future, the more defined a type of work is, the more autonomous the work can be:
- operational infrastructure (fully automated).
- post market-product fit core optimization (mostly automated).
- new strategic initiatives (balance of humans + algorithm/robotics).
- experimental R&D (mostly human).
Companies want to develop their own automation process because we are at the infancy of this trend. Whichever company can optimize automation will be the first mover and thus gain a true competitive advantage.
Automation First Mover
What advantages does automation provide businesses? Among them are speed, scale, testability, and up time. Two of these can be real competitive advantages over other businesses that are also developing their own automation processes:
Scale includes the capability to scale, speed of scale, and matching the scaling with demand. These can provide be a real competitive advantage.
Uptime refers to actual time businesses are operating a peak efficiency. Businesses can improve uptime with automation relatively easily through iterations. This provides an advantage over “upgrading” human brains, which cannot be re-wired as seamlessly and completely.
Speed and uptime are similar in that at certain point, the gaining of a very small advantage becomes cost prohibitive.
Tactic #1: Accept lost battles and join the other side by providing value that leads to real competitive advantages.
Automation Hedge Position
The Internet has lowered the cost of some basic automation tools for use by individuals.
- Virtual assistants can handle smaller sets of work.
- Mechanical Turks can handle large amounts of miniature work.
- Endless services can automate marketing work.
In practical terms, now is the easiest time ever to start your own business.
Tactic #2: Unlock the value of automation for yourself by using it.
Software > Human Mind
Here are a few areas where software has leads over human minds.
- computing power
- storage and access to storage
- iteration improvements, when software gets re-written, it is a newer and better version
- it scales much faster, and duplicating a piece of software is much faster than re-training another human being
Besides its ever-increasing computing power, software allows for an efficient iteration process. There are no problems in erasing the old software and replacing it with a new version.
Humans don’t have that luxury because our memories are leaky, not to mention false at times. Also, the more stubborn we are, the more of a disadvantage we carry in comparison to software, which is improving all the time without bias or heuristics.
Tactic #3: Treat your mind like software by reducing your own bias or heuristics so you can accept new views, logics, and ideas that will form new thinking.
Human Mind > Software
Here are some advantages our minds still have over machine:
- We have the ability to think creatively.
- We have the ability to connect different ideas to formulate new ideas.
- We have ability to take initiatives.
How to be creative
The basic essence of creativity comes from curiosity.
It’s cliché to say “just be a kid.” But the reason why that works is that, by being observant and asking why, you’re actively satisfying your curiosity. This motivates you to seek discoveries.
Ask “Why?” for everything. If you can’t find someone else’s answer, then work out the answer for yourself.
With your capacity for exploration, discoveries will lead you to the edge of your imagination and challenge the boundaries of pre-existing barriers.
How to connect ideas
First, think and be the devil’s advocate. Then, think about being angel’s advocate.
The changing of perspective is important because, in the physical world, you can view any object from many different angles, there are 360 degrees on the x-axis plane, another 360 degrees on the y-axis plane, and another 360 degrees on the z-axis plane. Add them up, and that gives you many different angles from which to view any single object.
So why would you think in a singular perspective regarding anything?
Once you’re able to have multiple views, it will be easier to discover multiple paths leading you from one idea onto another.
How to take initiative
Besides feeling motivated, taking initiative means taking real action based on that motivation.
Got ideas in your head? Try them out and apply them in real world situations. Find a path to turn the ideas into something real. If it fails, you learn something; if it succeeds then even better. It’s literally a win-win situation.
Tactic #4: Maximize the advantage your mind has over algorithms and do all you can to further increase the lead. Because…
Automation Will Lead to Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The most optimistic timeframe for developing AI is something like 15 years into the future.
Currently, people are working on two paths to strong AI:
- Humanistic AI as it emulates the principles of our mental process;
- Rational AI by analyzing big data sets to recognize causation facts.
Deep pocket companies are looking for machine learning to further their competitive advantage.
But in the short to medium time horizon, there is augmented intelligence. One is using crowd sourcing to augment computers. The other is using computers to augment human analysis.
Which brings us to the question
If all these advances are happening and accelerating, what are you doing about it?
If AI is an eventuality, it is logical to spend every waking moment to learn and to improve your mind. As AI catches up to our minds, we are exponentially losing opportunities to learn what AI can’t when we do not use any waking moment to develop our minds.
Tactic #5: AI is real and will arrive in the future. Preparing for this eventuality will depend solely on you. It’s time to accelerate your lifelong learning.
But we are humans, and humans are often irrational. Very few of us have the discipline and endless supply of motivation to drive our learning endlessly. But, that is not to say we should not try.
Go ahead, challenge yourself to new experiences and learn voraciously. It is fun and you will feel better having risen to the challenge.
Creative Destruction is one of the quintessential challenges of our time.
Here is a simple tool to augment your learning.
Two key ideas behind this app:
- Keep track of relevant information with the power of categorization.
- Effectively rank your thoughts like Amazon product reviews to streamline learning.
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