Human or Robot? A World of Man Vs. Machine

robot workerIn 2014, a popular YouTuber named CPG Grey created a video called “Humans Need Not Apply,” where he explains the unfortunate future of robots taking over human labor. He quickly points out (what we assume) is the obvious: Of course, technology takes over low-skilled, labourious jobs, but white collar technology careers will always be around.

Not so fast. Computers are learning how to think, be creative and analyse data. That can have a serious impact on careers we once considered untouchable. Here are few that have been affected by automation.

PC Setups

Personal computers (when people actually called them that) were treated just like electric, water, cable, and gas, in that we needed a professional to come set everything up. There were confusing chords and many CDs and drivers to install. Millennials don’t even know what that’s like! Today, everything from the wide-monitor Apple desktop computer to a sleek Lenovo laptop is ready to go right out of the box. Plug it in. Setup is a breeze.

Sports Reporting

We think of sports reporters as the people on the ground covering games, interviewing players and coaches and cranking out recaps against a deadline. But the Associated Press is finding ways to take small bits of information and automatically turn them into complete stories. Though the AP automation is very good at what it does, it wasn’t designed to replace jobs. It primarily creates reports for niche audiences, freeing up staff to work on bigger stories. In the distant future it could be a threat to journalists’ careers, but for now it’s helping small media companies stretch their budgets.

Email Marketing

Email is a saturated medium, so crafting the perfect message is crucial for successful outreach. You would think it takes a human to create such a creative endeavor, but software firm Persado found a way around that with technology. It studies the way we communicate and creates emails with no human assistance.

The software studies semantic speech patterns to determine what subject lines and body copy work best for each specific audience. The firm has worked with companies like Citi Bank and Neiman Marcus to successfully reach thousands of people. In some cases, subject lines written by a machine had a double open success rate compared to ones written by humans.

Financial Advisors

The financial game is big and scary to a lot of people, which is why thousands of advisors are employed across the U.S. to help millions invest their money wisely. But at the end of the day, the financial markets come down to a numbers game. Something that’s easy for a big data center to predict.

Well-known websites like Mint, Personal Capital and SigFig are using advanced algorithms to predict (with incredible accuracy) how markets will behave and where you should invest next. This process is no different than a human financial advisor, but it is much faster, more accurate, and takes emotion out of the equation (computers never get a “hunch,” for example).

Lawyers

You have the right to an attorney, but that doesn’t mean you’ll need one when automation makes them obsolete. Machines aren’t taking over every legal task but they are playing a huge part in the discovery process — sifting through thousands of documents to find evidence and legal arguments for a case. That process takes a machine a fraction of the time it would take a team of humans to do the same job.