Main image of article How Would You Respond If Watson Did Your Performance Review?
An Oxford University study titled The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerisation? concludes than nearly half of American jobs are at risk of being computerized within two decades. Positions that were once thought immune to the trend could be taken over by computers and robots.­ The first of these professions are in logistics, transportation and administrative support. Jobs like engineering, creativity and social intelligence could potentially be automated in the longer term. Click here to find robotics-related jobs. Even professionals in medicine are at risk of being replaced. Ubiquitous sensors like the upcoming iWatch will combine with Big Data to deliver far more information than the family doctor ever could. Consumers will have access to ever more powerful health-monitoring tools and diagnostic capabilities. Earlier this year, IBM’s Watson, in partnership with the New York Genome Center, created a medical trial in search of a cure for a specific cancer. And apparently curing cancer is only one of Watson’s potential talents: He’s being tasked to even creative activities, like cooking. He—um, it—recently designed a “delicious” Bengali Butternut BBQ Sauce. Computers are writing news reports too, including business reports for AP (Yikes!). This year a robot named Quakebot began breaking earthquake stories faster than any journalist ever did for the Los Angeles Times. The bulletins go from tremor to published in three minutes. Between robots that have a delicate enough touch to peel a banana and artificial intelligence smart enough to make a meal, no wonder people are thinking jobs may be at risk.

Who’s The Boss?

Millennials are competing with robots today, but could they be working for them tomorrow? It may seem like a reach to work for a machine, but 20 years ago the idea of a desktop computer shrunk down to a tablet was a stretch, too. So go with me on this. I don’t mean a robot behind a desk, but a program that gives you instructions to carry out a certain task. Could you work for Watson (or Microsoft’s knockoff) when it’s created a new food and tasks you with building a website that appeals to women aged 35 to 49? When predicting the future, we tend to project the present into it. My job as desktop engineer didn’t exist 20 years ago and it won’t 20 years from now. I have no idea what the future’s jobs will look like, but I have an idea of who we’ll answer to. What do you think?

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Image: IBM