Tuesday 17 October 2017

Mary Kenny: a spanner in the workers?

How automation limits the career options of our grandchildren

Mary Kenny
Mary Kenny
Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

'Isn't it interesting," said my elder granddaughter, Kitty, "that so many people in our family are journalists?" She named parents, grandparents, great-grandfathers, uncle, great-uncle. "Well," I said, "that often happens in families. You often see it with doctors, lawyers, plumbers, traders." But then I began thinking about the number of trades and professions which are predicted to disappear or diminish with the onward march of computers, robots and artificial intelligence.

Within the past few decades book-keepers, cashiers and telephone operators have all but gone. Computers have replaced airline reservation clerks and reduced the services of travel agents. Estate agents are said to be doomed as the computer software which searches and defines the property you're buying (or selling) gets ever more sophisticated. The whole world of sales is being computerised.

So, which jobs or professions will last into the future for our grandchildren? The folks who set up the algorithms are working out the predictions.

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