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Are you ready to re-skill for the Automation Age?

Are you ready to re-skill for the Automation Age?
October 26, 2017

In the current Digital age, everyone is talking about Robots taking over jobs and humans running out of work, to become slaves of robots.  Is this hype or is it going to become a reality? How do we, as individuals and organizations, reskill ourselves to leverage automation wave. What jobs will get created and what skills will be needed for future?

During the last few decades of Industrial revolution, millions of jobs got destroyed during the, but many millions of jobs got created in related software, machine operators, manufacturing experts. Similarly, several millions of jobs that will get created as part of the new automation led industrialization.

Robotic ecosystem is still in nascent stage. Over the next few years, we are unlikely to see one single robot performing several different tasks – the way it is portrayed in movies. Our robotic ecosystem has to evolve to build several underlying task level automations, before an all-purpose robot can be conceptualized. Given the complexity of our society and industries, this is likely to result in a plethora of small bots/intelligent software getting created which will do simple automation.

Over the next few years, we are unlikely to see one single robot performing several different tasks

Robot Creators: Robot creators are the folks who conceptualize the ideas to create robots and create proactive obsolescence for human work. This will need ability to visualize problems faced in the current as-is situation, understanding of AI and NLP techniques, exploring the art of possible to solve the problem. This involves a complex combination of technical, innovation-oriented business skills from robot creators to create the use cases for automation. This cross-functional skill of robot creators will be the critical differentiating factor in the success of individuals and organizations.

Robotic Trainers: For Robots to understand and communicate with Humans, we need robotic trainers to teach NLP. Whether it is for customer service agent or other digital agents like Alexa, understanding human emotions and connotations, is highly critical and is situation dependent.

Below is an example of how Alexa added empathy to its response when it was paired with a trainer Koko to show compassion. While encountering student who is anxious to face the exam, rather than just saying “I am sorry to hear that”, it responded with “Exams are really stressful, but a little anxiety can help us succeed. It sharpens out mind”. These are the future robotic trainers either powered by software or human intervention.

Robot Testers: This is not our traditional system or software testing. Companies have to take increasing levels of accountability for decisions being made (or not made) by Robots and hence testing of these algorithms become a critical task.

Robot Sustainers: But it encompasses both integrated view of bot cutting across machine, the software and the data it is processing. Unlike the IT maintenance, Robotic maintenance will be focused on improving the decision making and level of usage of Bots. Hence this role should be considered almost as a mentor for Robots helping them to improve their relevance for specific use case.

Robotic Governance: We need people to govern the bots and act as interpreters to either consumers or to business leaders, so that we can make sense out of decisions made by the Robot. MIT calls these roles as “Explainers”. As the society gets more automated, enterprises need these explainers to report back on Robots decisions and their efficiency.

Even if only portion of the world population participate in this automation led industrialization, we would end up creating billions of bots and in turn millions of jobs to create/govern/improve these bots. Success will follow those who reskill themselves to latch on these opportunities.


MIT Sloan Review March 2017

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