Daily Archives: November 1, 2017

They Terk Er Jerbs!


Now that the age of the robots are here (and this can’t be denied as the robots are in Walmart now [Source: Reuters]), will you be the next to join Darryl Weathers’ crew in screaming that they took your job?

Or will you welcome their entry into the workforce and their willingness to do the work you don’t want to do and take the opportunity to (learn to) do something better and more interesting and, frankly, more intelligent.

Face it. You don’t want to check inventory. It’s boring. You don’t want to apply the same rivet all day on the production line. It’s boring. And you certainly don’t want to harvest [as evidenced by the fact that most farms can’t find enough domestic workers during harvest season to do the same boring task minute after minute, hour after hour, and day after day during harvest season].

But you’re sometimes willing to actually stock shelves — organizing a display can be mildly creative, and you would probably rather help someone find a product and have some form of personal interaction than scan shelves for products people may or may not want. You’re probably also more willing to do quality testing on the outputs of the production line than construction, at least that’s verification of quality and a bit of creative destruction, and you’d probably be even more willing to review design aspects and even assist in prototype development if the company gave you a bit of training. Etc.

Robots will take jobs, but the jobs these artificially intelligent machines take are not always the interesting jobs, and there are jobs they can’t take. They are not truly intelligent, and as a result they can’t truly anticipate what we will want, they can’t create new works of art without guidance, and they can’t always read our mood and feelings, especially if we are not being forthcoming about it. Yes they can predict based on trends and be right a lot, but this means they can also be spectacularly wrong. And when it comes to quality, they can’t test for anything they haven’t been programmed to test for. So if a product had a major usability design flaw, as long as it passed the material stress tests, the robot would never know.

There may come a day when they are almost as good at us at design, creative, and social jobs, but that’s still a ways off. For now, we can at least be content in the fact that while they take some jobs, they can’t take all aspects of those jobs and we can create new job definitions that expand upon what they can’t do. We will have to keep learning, and truly work smarter, but screaming They Terk Er Jerbs won’t get us anywhere (as it hasn’t since the dawn of the industrial revolution). So, for now we can take solace in the fact that we can create a two-tier society: us, and them, and relegate them to the lower tier, as long as we don’t grant them citizenship! (Even pretending to is too much!)

And use them, and advanced software, to do our jobs better! Even in Procurement. How? Stay tuned.