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Will Donald Trump’s policies be sabotaged by robots?

The new US president wants to bring jobs back to the US, but – whatever the long-term impact of protectionism – pundits anticipate the continued destruction of jobs due to automation.

It’s easy to find examples of jobs disappearing in the motor industry, displaced by physical robots, a phenomenon first seen in 1937 and popular since the 1980s. More recently jobs have been displaced in knowledge work such as legal research and in insurance.

Forecasts by Oxford academics Frey and Osborne have been much quoted (including by me) as putting ‘almost half of all jobs at risk’. You can even go online and check whether your job is at risk (BBC). Other academics say this estimate should be as few as 9% of jobs (although academics disagree; I’ve been told their use of PIAAC data is not a good guide).

These headlines about jobs disguise the main impact of artificial intelligence. Indisputably, AI is going to automate certain tasks within almost everyone’s jobs. You can now hand over your appointment making to an artificial PA called Amy. Next: The CFO? There will be countless other examples in the next few years. There’s no lack of ambition in the AI world.

Here at Career Innovation we’re helping people respond. Which parts of your job will go? If you’re smart, you will pro-actively re-shape your job to get rid of the dull bits and to ensure you are skilled at the creative, subtle and relational parts that  add the most ‘human’ value.

Last week, in partnership with two UK professional bodies (CIH and STEP), Ci launched a new online course that takes people through a structured review, and take practical steps to  future-proof their career.

Taken from the ‘Be Bold’ course, this McKinsey article and video can help you steer your course through the changes to come.

To run ‘Be Bold’ for your organisation, do get in touch and ask us


Robotics and AI are likely to have most impact on semi skill jobs like van driving, delivery processing, warehousing etc. Higher skill jobs like train driving are suitable for retraining but for staff who have low educational skills and ability the options are more limited. The social impact of this next IT revolution seems to have been given limited study by academics and politicians. The riots by the dispossessed could be greater than the Luddite riots of the 1800s unless a creative solution to their re-employment is found before the technology is rolled out.

Written by David, February 11, 2017

Setting aside the rather positive possibilities for transhumanism (ie increasing human capabilities via tech add-ons which could let disabled people walk or increase our memories or eyesight or whatever), it seems we are facing a massive challenge. Are we going to see an increasingly de-humanised entry level blue/white collar workforce being driven to “peak performance” and productivity at the expense of their mental and physical health as they work under constant measurement and scrutiny, until eventually more sophisticated robots take their jobs? So far, we have essentially done just that – look at call centres, Amazon or many other examples of excessive Taylorism (though people misunderstand Taylor too!).

As we look at what we do and don’t value about work, we will have to take seriously the political desire for a universal income, as a way to take care for those in our societies whose skills are essentially defunct, and who won’t necessarily want or value a higher level of leisure. Globalisation will suffer major setbacks as people choose to back different models to protect societies and ways of life that would be wiped out by full on capitalism.

The much-maligned and misunderstood Luddites will have their modern equivalents. Expect massive unrest, massive change. In other words, hold on for a bumpy ride!

Written by Matt Nixon, February 14, 2017

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