Will You Be Replaced by a Robot?

Will You Be Replaced by a Robot?

This entry is part 39 of 80 in the series Pangaea

It’s difficult to open a magazine or look at a news site on the internet and not run across the “robots are going to take your job” theme. So, I’ve been doing a bit of reading on the subject, and I’ve come up with some very basic criteria for determining if your job may be on the short list for a robotic takeover.

It boils to R & R. If your job is Repetitive and Routine, then an automated algorithm may be waiting to take over your position.

Here’s a list of most-threatened jobs from a University of Oxford study on the subject of job automation. According to their research, the most at-risk jobs are:

  • transportation and material moving,Will You Be Replaced by a Robot?
  • production,
  • installation,
  • maintenance and repair,
  • construction and extraction [mining],
  • farming, fishing, forestry,
  • office and administrative work,
  • sales, and service jobs.

I don’t see the profession of geospatial in there (whew!). But still, we have seen the encroachment of robotics into geospatial and, generally, to the benefit of the profession. Does anyone remember when GNSS went mainstream and made two-person crews virtually obsolete? Robotic total stations, anyone? (Hint: they have the word “robotic” in their name.) What about the impact of UAS?

The fact is most of us view these robotic advances as a good thing. They offer both 1) a path to increased efficiency and productivity and 2) a chance to work with robots instead of being replaced by them. Because technological progress isn’t going away, we humans are given a choice: work with and exploit robots or be replaced by them.

Not everyone agrees, of course. For those who differ, I suggest an excellent article on the subject of innovation in land surveying: “Are You Ready to be Relevant?” by James M. Shaw, Jr., LS. Mr. Shaw’s observations and advice are spot on in my book.

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