Earlier this week I had a connection request on LinkedIn from someone under the nom de plume of Unemploy Bot, claiming in its headline “I will take your job soon!”.
Normally I’d shun such nonsense, but there was something about Unemploy Bot that tickled me. I accepted the request, and got into a short conversation, joking that it would be hard pushed to take my job because I don’t actually have one.
That’s not the same as saying I don’t have work. I most certainly do. But as a member of the gig economy I plough my furrow outside of conventional models of jobs and employment. I adapt to the client and the work that is available and to which, I hope, I am able to add a degree of value.
As is often the way with such throwaway lines, I’ve been thinking more deeply about my defensive tactic against a robot stealing my job. For all of the talk of robotised employment at the moment, getting machines to replace humans is arduous and capital-intensive. Whether a physical production line or artificial intelligence, it takes time and money to set up to automate humans out of employment. It quite possibly will lead to efficiency, but you will want to be sure that the thing you are automating is something that drives value from scale. Whether automating a manufacturing process or training an algorithm, automation is still a costly business.
We humans, however. When we put our minds to it… We can be adaptive to novel circumstances. We can apply learning reliably to new scenarios. We can solve problems through metaphor. We are cognitive artisans.
So if you want to protect yourself from the robot overlords, don’t get scared. Just ditch the job and focus on adaptive working instead. It’s what makes us human.