What it is: Artificially intelligent computers are taking over tasks that humans used to do. The surprise is that automation isn’t just eliminating manual labor.
In the old days of Wall Street, big banks and hedge funds used to hire MBAs to manage funds and analyze the stock market for opportunities. Increasingly, Wall Street is becoming dominated by quantitative analysts, otherwise known as quants. Instead of learning about finances and markets, quants specialize in algorithms and machine learning. Not surprisingly, more hedge funds are relying on high-frequency trading algorithms in computerized black boxes than so-called expertise found in human analysts. That’s because the bottom line is that algorithms are faster, more reliable, and more accurate than human financial analysts.
In the old days, people worried that automation and artificial intelligence would eliminate manual labor jobs such as robots working on assembly lines. However, machine learning has the capability of eliminating any routine, repetitive task whether it involves manual labor or a Ph.D. in astrophysics. As Wall Street quickly learned, machine learning provides faster and ultimately more accurate results than any human expert could ever do. That’s why automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are now threatening every job.
Think of any repetitive task and that’s perfect for a machine to do instead. Artificially intelligent machines can already diagnose diseases with greater accuracy than human doctors while quants in Wall Street may know next to nothing about the financial market, but that doesn’t stop them from creating computers that can generate steady, consistent profits year after year that human analysts can never do.
The world will increasingly be dominated by machine learning and that’s good news for some people but bad news for others.
In the fast food industry, restaurants are balking at the $15 minimum wage standard that’s being proposed in the United States. Rather than pay more people this higher hourly wage, restaurants are looking at increased automation to allow fewer people to do the work of many with the help of machines. Tats’ why you’ll soon see more touch screens at ordering counters and more robots delivering food.
In the transportation business, expect self-driving cars and trucks to take over the taxi and trucking industry. Machine learning is dominating the world so if you’re hoping to excel against a machine, you’re destined for failure. The real key isn’t to fight automation but to embrace it. That’s because a human can’t compete with a machine, but a machine can’t compete with a human using a machine.
Pairing a human’s versatile brain with a machine’s reliability and accuracy means the real jobs will be those who know how to use machines as a tool to work more efficiently than either a human or a machine alone. There’s no need to fight machines when it’s far more lucrative and productive to work with a machine instead.
Major tech companies like Google and Facebook are busy pursuing artificial intelligence and machine learning while Apple and Microsoft offer machine learning frameworks to help developers add machine learning capabilities to their programs. If you want a job in the future, find a way to pair your talents with a machine to offer features that neither a human nor a machine could deliver otherwise.
Anyone who tries to compete against machines is doomed. Anyone who thinks they can replace all humans with machines is also doomed. The future belongs to people willing and able to team up with machines to form an unbeatable combination that uses the creativity of humans with the raw computing power of machines.
The future is actually quite bright if you look in the right direction. If you choose to look int he wrong direction, you might as well be trying to open a DVD rental store or manufacture slide rulers today and wonder why your business is going nowhere.