Robots are taking our jobs. Not all of them, it has to be said, but quite a lot of them. Scholars at Oxford University believe that 47% of jobs in the United States and 54% of jobs in Europe are in serious danger of being wrested from the clutches of humans and handed over to machines.
Many people think that because of their current career they are untouchable from the cold and unforgiving touch of automatons, but huge leaps in artificial intelligence and machine learning are quickly making even the most reassuringly human jobs at risk.
British technology firm Babylon is promising to build what it hopes will be the perfect doctor using machine learning – a type of artificial intelligence whereby machines learn through trial and error rather than through being explicitly programmed by humans at a pace mankind cannot compete with until the most efficient way of achieving accurate results has been learned, iterated, and verified.
Effectively, programmers and doctors are working together to create algorithms based on the principle of ‘if this, then that’. This is where the AI responds to information the user provides, runs it against every possible scenario, and then, using the number of instances of that specific medical issue, can provide a percentile score telling the user the likelihood of each outcome.
So if doctor’s jobs are at risk, what other careers are in the firing line? Financial businesses such as Nasdaq are investing heavily in machine learning to provide them with super-accurate forecasts and trends analysis to know the exact time to sell or invest.
Outside of maths and numbers, writers and wordsmiths are also at risk of losing their jobs to AI, with machines today being programmed to analyse an entire organisation’s written output and create new content based on certain keywords within seconds. Furthermore, the entire transport industry could be shaken to its core by driverless cars which promise less cost and safer roads.
Machine learning is everywhere. It’s on your phone in virtual voice assistants like Siri and Alexa, it’s in your shopping accounts where you get tailored recommendations, it’s on your TV with Netflix learning the types of shows you like to watch and it’s in our online communication in emails and social media. It’s gathering pace at an unprecedented speed and threatens to leave many behind in its wake.
So how can you stop yourself from being one of the number of people who are possibly going to find themselves surplus to requirements? Well, retraining as a developer is the obvious answer. If machines are going to be built and programmed to take jobs then being able to build and programme them yourself is likely to keep you relevant and ensure you have a useful skill for the future.
Developers are currently enjoying a very lucrative time; there are more jobs currently available than there are people to fill them and developers can negotiate a strong salary. Take Java jobs for instance, a starting salary begins in the UK at around £23,000 and career progression allows for a mid-tier role with earning potential of £40,000 with senior developers able to command a salary in excess of £59,000. Because employers are begging for good talent, they are willing to take risks on those with a grasp of the basics of programming as some of the more technical and advanced elements can be taught on the job.
Some of the benefits of working as a developer are of interest to a lot of modern men and women. The opportunity for remote working means parents can still ensure they are spending time at home with their families and loved ones but it also means that you aren’t limited to working in your town, city, state or even country. Having coding as a skill opens up the entire world to you and all you need is a reliable internet connection to work and Skype with.
Many are calling this process of machines taking over tasks typically performed by humans as the fourth industrial revolution. If you aren’t savvy and forward thinking now, then potentially further down the line you’re going to be asking when did it all go wrong? So, what’s holding you back? Embrace coding and prepare yourself for the future of work.
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