Tag Archives: automation

Who are able to Keep Their Jobs when the Robot Apocalypse Happens?

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Majority of the work we are doing as marketing professionals will be done by robots in (not so far) future. So if we won´t embrace that change, we will The workforce lead by robots is not only a threat for luddites but also opportunity for broad-minded professionals. Before anything can be automated and singularity kicks in, there will be a (probably relatively long) period of augmentation when we can work alongside with smart machines.

In their book ”Only Humans Need Apply”, writers Tom Davenport and Julia Kirby list five potential ways for us humans to remain relevant when robots starts to take over:

Step Up
Overseeing the automated systems.

Who will keep their jobs in advertising industry?
A few lucky managers, who are visionary and ruthless enough to replace majority of the workforce with automated systems.

Step In
Learning more about how robots will work and how to improve them.

Who will keep their jobs?
Those who are currently good at their jobs but not opposed to progress and using robots to do majority of the heavy lifting in their work. Combination of machine learning and human tacit knowledge is quite often the killer combination compared to only-human and only-robot approaches. At least for now.

Step Aside
Paradoxically the much-ridiculed ”soft skills” are more robot-prone than the more analytical skills. It is easier to teach robot to kick your ass on math challenge, but way harder to teach robot to have empathy when your colleague is having a bad day.  Using human skills like motivation, creativity, persuasion or empathy while using the automated systems will be the killer combination in expert services (e.g. financial advisory: robots are doing the investing, humans are doing the selling).

Who will keep their jobs?
Everyone who can sell and gets along with people. Evem when majority of the hard work is done by machines you still need human touch to sell those solutions to other humans.

Step Narrowly
Specialize in field so obscure that it does not make sense to automate.

Who will keep their jobs?
Those specialists who you call to perform really weird tasks with high price tag (e.g. the best taxidermy photographer, world´s best copywriter for sanitary pads, scouting agent specializing in New York) and you always wonder how they make their living (from those weird tasks and commissioning premium, duh). In global marketplace there is enough demand for pretty much anything and there is always higher demand for the best one in the field.

Step Forward
Developing new systems and technology to automate processes.

Who will keep their jobs?
Forward-looking people who have good understanding of current processes and preferably understanding of data & algorithms (or alternatively ability to speak the same language as data geeks).

As we can see from this list, there are plenty of opportunities in our field to work alongside smart machines. What combines all of these ways (maybe excluding stepping narrowly which is probably the least applicable route to majority of us) is that we need to embrace the improvements that smart machines can bring to our ways of working.  We need to be willing to work to add value to machines and be willing to let machines add value to our work. If you are opposing change and just hope for legislative restrictions to slow down the inevitable, you are without your job sooner than you think.

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Robots Should Drive My Taxi

During my three years in Singapore, majority of things have improved.

Trying to get taxis and travelling with them is however becoming more frustrating every day. I mostly use public transport. Both bus and MRT lines work perfectly (at least in my routes). Usually when I select taxi, the selection is based on urgency instead of convenience. Quite often the service experience is not really pleasant.

The rise of the taxi apps has been double-edged sword. On the other hand they have enabled you to get taxis to areas where you could not really wave a cab before. On the other hand every taxi driver is now just circling areas and waiting for pre-booking fees from the apps. Also apparently some taxi companies try to force their drivers not to use the best app (Grabtaxi) and to use only their own apps.

Taxi booking apps and arrival of Uber in Singapore are hopefully just a start in Taxi revolution. I am waiting for the time that the robot cars will revolutionize taxi industry:

Singapore would be a perfect place to test self-driving taxis: small area which is mostly documented in GPS, not many cyclists, predictable traffic, predictable weather, good roads, etc.

Here are six reasons why I would select robot over human driver any time:

1. No mistakes

Google´s self-driving cars have crashed twice. First time a human was driving the car. Next time a human rear-ended Google´s car. I would feel much safer with robot driving my taxi, than have my human driver watching Korean drama from his iPad and fixing his smartphone while speeding on highway (real story). Airplanes are majorly automatically flown nowadays which has reduced the accidents. Majority of the flight crashes are caused by human error. Comparing the

2. No explaining routes
“PIE or ECP*?” was my crash course to Singaporean acronyms. I thought that the driver was referring to some part drugs. Taxi driver should better equipped as a professional to select the right expressway. Especially compared to me, as I am still occasionally thinking that traffic goes to wrong direction.

The point of taxi service is that client needs to only know where he wants to go. Driver should know how to get there. Quite seldom that is the case. I have realized that I am actually checking the routes before hopping into taxi to instruct the drivers. This is waste of my time. For some odd reason majority of taxi drivers do not use GPS maps in Singapore.

Getting from point A to B is not rocket science. Google Maps gets you quite far. Waze gets you even further (both owned by Google though). Robot-driving car would utilize these tools with ease.

3. No shift changes or general laziness
Nothing frustrates more than seeing green cabs refusing to take you where you want to go because it is not on the right direction for the driver. Taxi should be a service business.

There is something fundamentally wrong with incentive system for cab drivers in Singapore. Drivers can just cherry-pick easy drives and even stop driving if they feel like it.

Robot driver does not need sleep, go to toilet or have any of other hindrances human drivers have. It would just keep on driving. Self-driving car would not discriminate depending on where you are going. Or throw tantrums at you because you just happen to live close to the airport.

4. No hiding in the rain
Whenever it starts to rain, taxis disappear. Based on the studies many taxis don´t pick up passengers during rain. They are afraid of accidents, because taxi companies will deduct them 1000 SGD immediately after accident. You will get it back, if you are not to blame of the accident. Again that is fault of the system, but eventually consumers will suffer. You usually need taxis more when it rains and not the vice versa.

Driving in rain, even heavy rain is not even that difficult. People are driving in snowstorms and icy roads all the time in Nordic countries. Robot drivers would not have extra jinx because of the conditions and could automatically adjust their driving style to any weather.

5. No annoying bantering during your trip
From planner perspective talking to taxi drivers is always beneficial.

You get answers and firm POV on about everything you could even think of. I can also understand that quite many people do not necessarily want to hear driver´s view on air pollution, politics or prostitutes in Geylang. Instead you could tune your favorite playlist in Spotify and enjoy a smooth ride from place A to B.

6. No obstacle to card payment
Paying with card in Taxis is a troublesome experience. Despite the card stickers on windows, majority of the drivers try to avoid card payment by any means.

Therefore you try to always pay with cash. Even then you are scolded by paying with too big notes (usually 50 dollars, which just happens to be the standard note from ATMs). Automatic cars could just take your card without complaints and no worries when they will receive the money to their bank account.

Don´t get me wrong. There have been awesome taxi drivers who have saved me multiple times by getting me on time to the airport. Still I am firm advocate of constant development. Currently the service level you get from human drivers would easily be matched and improved by self-driving taxis. I am definitely the first one testing the driverless car.

*These refer to Singaporean expressways (East Coast Parkway and Pan Island Expressway).

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