(RO)BOT, (RO)BOT, TELL ME WHO IS THE HAPPIEST IN THE LAND? (EN)
Robots assembling cars, robots sorting cucumbers according to shape, robots instead of cashiers at Tesco, robot drivers (their history reaches almost 100 years back), robots working in conditions that are unpleasant for people (heat, cold, bad air…) - I don’t think this surprises any of us anymore.But what about a robot lawyer, robot teacher, robot writer, painter (not of rooms, but of pictures:) robot musicians/composers, or a robot who is in charge of you as an employee - a kind of HR robot…? All of this is not the future, but has already been the present for a few years. Further improvement of algorhithms, neural networks that are already improving themselves, no sweat. The question is - how do we as people come to terms with it? What will we resign ourselves to in time and what will we keep as “ours”?
Because since the beginning of this year I have been a bit irritated by all the motivational e-mails, articles, blogs of all the various people within personal development, so I have personally, in a non-sales manner, resigned myself to something similar. Although I would fit well into such a setup and perhaps sell a few of my own products and services so nice and early in the year, but instead I have prepared a slightly delayed contemplative blog about our future hand in hand with (ro)bots.
Of course I am no programmer nor a data analyst - so my considerations are more about my wonder and admiration for this field, and even my fear of the unknown as a professional who helps people with their professional development.
A SMALL HR INTRO
Last October I held workshops at the Top Vision “Training and Development Forum” on the theme of personal branding of employees and work with Career Dyary, which was useful for this work. We talked about why every individual should take responsibility for their own development and work on themselves together with HR. This should not be done passively, somehow automatically waiting for what HR will come up with for you and then simply (sometimes passively) consuming it.
At a time when companies are fighting over the attention of capable people, this is a slightly daring thought. Won’t it be a little counterproductive to want something more from people than the work itself? Especially when the other companies can excel in the presentations, especially towards talented graduates, by offering football, free coffee, etc., I don’t want to sound stupid, but “nice to have” things and services? It is now a bit of a fashion to say everything you will be able to give, provide, enable… And in opposition to that I am suddenly saying that work on your personal vision is “yours”. Not your duty, but something that no one else will do for you and is necessary to put a chunk of yourself, a chunk of your energy… It’s not only about the power of selling yourself somehow, but simply trying to understand yourself: where am I coming from and where am I headed, what makes me happy, what am I good at, what potential can I develop.
Then one of the discussions was stirred up by a man who said, “All psychology is nonsensical pseudoscience based on false premises and the bad methodology of the majority of its research. This has a negative impact on HR, too. I think it’s time to transfer to full automation and simply tune the quality of the algorithms! Make HR more IT.” …that stuck in my mind so deeply that I may be recalling it in a slightly distorted way, but the sentiment was very “anti-human” and “pro-robot” I thought about that for a long time. As you can see, it’s still on my mind months later … So, I told myself that I would find more information about it for this blog and try to arrange my thoughts on this topic, which are often quite contradictory..
MACHINES WILL TAKE OUR JOBS
One thing that seems undeniable is that you can’t stop progress. So although my initial reaction was negative (of course, defense mechanism: denial , it is probably obvious that the time for smashing the machines that are taking our jobs is far behind us and we can honestly admit that: a) it was futile, and b) there is still more than enough work (although, in comparison with the period of the Industrial Revolution, it is of a very different nature).
When we look into the history of automation, into why people have always striven to perfect machines, we will probably answer that the main motivation has simply been to make work easier. Or, as my colleague Pavel says: laziness is the motor of progress. With individual innovators we find that the motivation is the satisfaction gained from the process of discovery and improvement itself.
A deeper realization has undeniably shifted us forward in the area of health (higher life expectancy / average life expectancy), including the accessibility of food in many areas of the world regardless of season, etc. What interests me personally however, is our world of work and the way we earn a living, especially in the so-called first and second worlds.
Ok, so in these worlds we don’t exactly work from sunrise to sunset, 24/7 anymore. We have free weekends (at least in theory). So yes, there has been some progress there. But on the other hand: what about the tens and hundreds of emails every day, what about overtime (including weekends), which for many people are “obligatorily optional” so that we can manage the amount of work we have to do? Instead of sore backs from shoveling, we have sore backs from slumping in front of the computer. Why is it, despite all our technical progress, that a 4-hour work day or a 4-day work week is still a distant ideal rather than a reality for most people?
Personally, I am not afraid that robots will take our jobs and that we will have nothing to do (you can find many articles and videos on this topic – I have chosen a TEDex video on the theme: Why We Will Never Run Out of Jobs - from Tim O’Reilly). Hundreds of new positions will arise (overworked drone drivers, weather managers, surgeons with specializations in memory enhancement, vertical farmers, well-being consultants for seniors, etc.).
WHEN ARE WE FINALLY GOING TO BE HAPPIER IN OUR LIVES / WORK? The question I am constantly asking myself is - are our lives at work really much easier, and thus better and happier? Again: passing over the basic modern health improvements ensuring that we are not dying en masse from the plague, I am looking for questions and answers in the work sphere. That is, I am approximately dealing with the top three levels of Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs.
Personally, technology enables me to do nearly two yearly quarters of work from Latin America, for which I am extremely happy. On the other hand, I do not see that our Euro-American society is more satisfied than the one there. And I am certainly not claiming the opposite. The big cities in Latin America have a similar rhythm and way of life to those in Europe, including hipster quarters :) Nevertheless, the countryside is noticeably slower and much poorer.