What do we do with the imminent arrival of the robots?

First, a machine, DeepBlue overcomes the World Chess Championship. Now another machine, AlphaGo has beaten one of the best players in the world of Go, a board game, popular in Asia, and even more complicated than chess, and considered one of the most inaccessible games for a machine, the large number of variants of movements.

But there is also Tug, the robot works in many hospitals, distributing medicines through the rooms and corridors pacing as a member of the staff. Or the Japanese receptionist robot, created by Toshiba, which aims to replace many of the employees working in the lobby of the hotel (there is already a template hotel with robots) and threatens to revolutionize the tourism industry. Or the cook robot, Japanese, of course, Delighting restaurant owners who “hire”, not only for its effectiveness in the kitchen and serving time, but for their punctuality, 365 days a year.

And not only in technological journals or business magazines we find news about these developments, which every day present with the potential to replace many of the jobs that we are used to seeing every day from ATMs in a supermarket to employees of a bank, for example. To some extent, it is considered normal appearance of these robots as protagonists news magazines like Wired, known for the glorification of technology, but the conversation has begun to spread to the town square or, what they are today their equivalent, Facebook and Twitter.

In those social networks, I meet hundreds of messages daily, in many cases with a general malaise, understandable, this profound change that will start noticing at all levels. The other day, on Facebook, without going any further, read a thread of comments about people in Spain, who refused to go to businesses where jobs have been automated, because, in his opinion, relegating humans to background. Beyond a few simple comments, the tone of the conversation was becoming heated, attacking entrepreneurs for the dismissal of the persons concerned, which have been replaced by these technological advances. a call to boycott those businesses that employ these machines are even doing so invasive.

If on one hand we see the recklessness of a sector of the population, on the other hand, however, there is also a sector that welcomes these developments, welcoming them with open arms. Obviously, you can not make a simple distinction between the two groups, as if they belonged to two opposing sides radicals. Nevertheless, what we can observe is a clear difference between the attitude towards the future of people who perceive technology as an invasion or threat, as thieves use, compared to those who can not wait to live in a world more advanced, which are made come true and all those dreams of science fiction movie, as in Star Wars.

Without going into specific or personal situations, because, depending on the circumstances of each individual, will be the world in one way or another, in general terms I think the attitude to such developments can have very different consequences. That is, it is normal that if your father or yourself have lost their jobs because the company has hired a robot that has replaced you, it is understandable to walk forward unscrewed all those machines, disarm and crush them with his feet, like that famous scene from the movie office Space, in which office workers destroy, in a very appropriate background music, the printer damn life annoys them daily. Now, if you still have not you been affected by the situation directly, and you wonder how you should deal with the short-term future, I suggest that you focus on the opportunities that will open, not on the doors to be close.

No doubt millions of jobs disappear, the machines will be much more efficient, reliable and cheaper than human for many tasks, but we should be clear that these changes will give us new opportunities. The key question lies in what can be done, individually and as a society, with the imminent arrival of these machines and which consequently will be a completely different labor market to which we are accustomed.

I think the first thing to do is accept that change is inevitable. Fight change has always been an uphill battle, a game that always end up losing. Perhaps some societies not isolate temporarily, but in the end, the changes gradually reach most corners of the globe. The blame largely owed to globalization, with all the opportunities it opens, it also makes changes affect us almost all the world’s inhabitants, more or less intensely. This does not mean that all changes are good, and everyone should be accepted because yes, but it is difficult to avoid the technological changes in these times of globalization, global interconnection. They will certainly be rules on the ethical use of some of these emerging technologies. It may also delay implementation somehow in certain fields or industries deemed critical for the social support of a greater part of society. I do not think you can achieve is to stop the avalanche permanently.

After accepting that change is here, touches ask, what can we do about it to improve our situation? The first is to assess the opportunities that may arise. It begins by analyzing the tasks performed in your company. The more repetitive are more automated, they will be easier to replace with technology. If technology is implemented, who will design, manage, to lead this technology? Well, for now, humans, so look for those positions where you can bring a human value. What skills left? Well now is the ideal time to buy them. With the amount of online courses available for free, almost anyone in the world that has internet connection can advance their knowledge, acquire skills that allow you to stay one step ahead.

In every society, if these changes occur in an accelerated manner, there will be many people who will not be able to adapt to changing times, some out of fear, other disability, and even many by ideology. The truth is that it should not marginalize that part of society. There will be, among the group of those who have adapted, those who believe a plan to assist these people, either, as it begins to suggest in some circles, with a universal income or educational assistance programs for integration into the new reality.

I hope you’re one of those who take the lead in this future full of uncertainty and opportunity, full of social movements, labor movements, technological advances and challenges to established standards. We can complain, attempt to block the changes, shutting us in the trenches. But change will devastate us, it will expand as tsunami, will drag us to a new place for that, surely, will not be prepared. On the other hand, we can dare, look forward to the eyes, assess possibilities and move with firmness and conviction.

He takes the first step forward and take control from now. The goddess Fortuna usually rewards more daring than hidden. Good luck.


The world is coming, Juan Martinez-Barea

The Shift: The future of work is Already Here