The Day A Robot Took My Job

In 1hindsight, I should have seen it coming. All the signs were there but I was too 2myopic to see them until it was too late. The dots were all in place yet I had failed to connect them. The writing was on the wall but I was obviously illiterate. If only I had known then what I know now, could this tragedy have been averted?

 

I should have sensed that something was amiss. After all, why would the company offer me an all-expenses paid, four-days-three-nights getaway to that nice resort as an ‘incentive’ for no rhyme or reason? For all your hard work over the years, they said. To keep you motivated, they said. Fool that I was, I fell for it 3hook, line and sinker.

 

Obviously, the holiday was just a ploy. They had planned it all along. They needed me out of the way. They needed me away from my desk. They needed to get me away from the office. They needed my place to be vacant so that they could set that thing up.

 

Now there it sat, taking pride of place on my desk where my trusty old desktop computer used to be. There was something unsettlingly human about its demeanour. The tangle of cables and wires was 4reminiscent of arteries and veins. The LED lights seemed to be beady blinking eyes, aglow with menace. It hummed with a self-satisfied techno purr that seemed to 5insidiously whisper, ‘You, puny human, are no match for the likes of me. I am the new improved version. Whatever you can do, I can do better, faster and cheaper. I am the future. You are the past. Bid your livelihood goodbye…’

 

 

 

As if working in 6collusion with its new machine superior, the telephone on my former desk rang. My presence was required in the human resource (HR) manager’s office, would I be so kind as to make my way there at my earliest convenience? My co-workers, or should I say, soon-to-be-ex-co-workers, seemed to be more engrossed in their computer screens than ever before. Nobody wants to look you in the eye when you are 7walking the plank. After exchanging the usual corporate appropriate pleasantries with Michelle, the HR manager, I settled into the uncomfortable leather chair and braced myself for The Talk. Michelle started with a veritable list of The Machine’s hi-tech capabilities. I was only a puny human and clearly not The Machine’s match. The Machine really was the new improved version. Whatever I could do, it could do better. Moreover, it could do it faster and cheaper to boot. It really was the future and I was really feeling like I had been relegated to the past. I had to bite my lip to keep from blubbering as I mentally bade my livelihood goodbye.

 

“…would like to offer you my congratulations. You have been promoted! Your new post comes with a pay increment, of course. All you need to do from now on is input the data and this latest model R080T is state-of-the-art technology and will do the rest. That means you won’t need to perform all those 8tedious tasks you used to complain about anymore. No more typing, no more filing and no more red tape, too! That’s all in the past. From now on, the R080T can take care of all the grunt work and you will be free to focus more on the creative side. The company has decided to give you your own office so you can concentrate better and hold client meetings without having to book the conference room. Of course, we will need to send you off on a short course in Berlin to learn how to operate the R080T. We’ll fly you there business class and compensate all your expenses of course, so don’t worry about cost. Oh, did I also mention your promotion comes with an expense account as well? Anyway, let me walk you over to your new office now, hope you like the decor…”

 

It took a few moments for Michelle’s words to sink in. If my heart had been a machine, it would have beeped for joy. As we passed my old desk on the way to my new office, I gazed adoringly at the colleague who had relieved me of my boring old job. There was no other way to say it, I love you, you gorgeous hunk of circuitry you! The state-of the- art latest model R080T beamed back at me in approval with its LED eyes. This was going to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship between this man and his machine.

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DID YOU KNOW ROBOTS DO PLAN TO TAKE YOUR JOBS?

Experts have predicted that by 2025, almost a quarter of jobs will be replaced by robots, software and smart machines, and by 2029, robots will have reached human levels of intelligence. And in case you are wondering if this will affect high end white collar jobs, studies reassure us that it will. Robots are poised to take over white-collar positions like lawyers, reporters and financial analysts.

Reference:
Experts predict robots will take over 30% our jobs by 2025 — here’s why you should care, from Business Insider, 1 May 2015

For Further Reading:
'Robots can take over some of our jobs. But some things only humans can do', from The Guardian, 22 October 2015.
Read more here

For Further Viewing:
'Humans need not apply.'
Watch YouTube here

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[Word Bank]

1. hindsight: understanding of a situation or event only after it has happened or developed

 

2. myopic: lacking foresight or intellectual insight

3. hook, line and sinker : used to emphasise that someone has been completely deceived or tricked

4. reminiscent : suggesting something by resemblance

5. insidiously : in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects

6. collusion : secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy in order to deceive others

7. walking the plank : suffering punishment at the hand of someone

8. tedious : too long, slow, or dull; tiresome or monotonous

 

References:
1. ‘The new white-collar fear: will robots take your job?’, from The Telegraph, 20 November 2015.
2. ‘The Robot Took My Job!’: Journalism Edition, by Neil Sharman, 24 September 2015.
3. ‘China publishes first report written by “robot journalist”’, from The Times of India, 12 September 2015.

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Article extracted from Inspire Issue 6 (pages 6-9)

Click here to learn more about Inspire magazine.


Written by: Mr Jeremy Au-Yong from www.theacademicworkshop.com