Are you a dinosaur?

Last year, The Guardian reported 4 million jobs, or 14% of the UK private sector, will be replaced by artificial intelligence over the next 10 years.

Now that’s some scary, ‘big data.’ But before we all give up in fear of the extinction, let me ask you 3 simple questions:

  • This morning, were you woken by an alarm, or by someone knocking at your window with a stick?
  • Was the milk you poured into your last coffee bought at a shop, or placed on your doorstep by a well-dressed man on a milk float?
  • Will someone light the streetlights that guide you home tonight at dusk, or will a sensor react to darkness, automatically luminating a powerful bulb?

You probably answered yes to the first part of my 3 questions. That’s 3 professions made obsolete by the introduction of robots. Chances are, you won’t give it a second thought tonight, as you sit down in front of your fireplace, freshly cleaned by the chimney sweep…

  • 20 years ago, if you followed someone you met at a bar you’d be arrested,
  • 10 years ago, if you wanted FaceTime with someone you’d have to sit across the table, and
  • 5 years ago, the idea of ordering a taxi using your phone was absurd.

Professions come and go, but the fear mongering your job will become ‘extinct,’ is a fanciful campaign.

The Dictionary.com definition of extinction refers to the biological, or ecological termination of an organism, or species. The prime example being the ‘Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction’ (or the extinction of the dinosaurs to me, and you!).

As our world gets smaller, leaner, and faster, your profession will inevitably change. To avoid obsolescence, you will be required to adapt, and as humans that’s what we’re best at.

As we have evolved from ‘hairy tailed quadrupeds, arboreal in habit’* we have (so far) proven Darwin’s theory ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.’  

So, when you treat yourself to a takeaway this weekend, ordered at the touch of a button, don’t fear obsolescence. Unless of course, you’re a dinosaur.

*Charles Darwin (1871) The Descent of Man