Which is the safest software job

Which jobs stay, which disappear

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"No, you can pull the plug." This is the answer that local HR managers recently gave at their annual Power of People congress when asked whether artificial intelligence will soon dominate us. Much belief in controllability and one's own irreplaceability, based on the belief that one's own (qualified) job future is not really threatened and that machines only do error-prone, boring, dirty, dangerous work so that those of flesh and blood have it better with creative ones , joyful, healthy decision-making jobs.

At this point, the dystopia of a world without work and thus with dissolved social relationships à la "Matrix" and "Black Mirror" likes to dig in. Evidence of this can be gathered by looking ahead to the year 2100, if you want. Perhaps with a little science fiction confidence in the picture of living together on different planets with a universal basic income and the occupation of people with their "ascent".

No black and white

For now, back to the present. What remains, what is going on in the world of work? Which jobs are disappearing, which training is safe?

This cannot be represented simply in black and white. The coming years seem to be divided into three professional spheres: Jobs that can be fully automated and are therefore no longer needed (like the so-called lift boy once), such as shelf attendants, harvest workers, truck drivers, legal assistants. The second and largest area are then job profiles whose content is digitally changing and / or redefined, such as the apprenticeship from retail saleswoman to e-commerce specialist, and finally the field of new professions, social media managers, drone drivers, software engineers - and whatever can still be thought of, including space tourism.

"It doesn't matter whether you are a factory worker, financial advisor or professional flute player: Automation is coming," says Stanford professor Jerry Kaplan about new professional content and cooperation with machines.

But: That doesn't apply to everyone. The paralegal assistants mentioned are now superfluous, algorithms for sifting through tens of thousands of pages of legal texts have long been in use. The same applies to the preparatory activities in tax matters, the US company H&R already has the Watson AI platform in operation. That new professions are emerging around data science or in the life sciences, that there is a lot of imagination in genetics and biomedicine, in weather management, with alternative energies or perhaps in the reanimation of extinct species - yes, why not?

Innovation creates jobs, but less

It is doubtful, however, that the growing world population will create a growing number of new jobs or job fields. Innovation creates jobs, but apparently less in quantitative terms. The structure of production and purchasing power wavers in this view.

Example: General Motors employed around 800,000 people in 1979 and had sales of $ 11 billion. The Alphabet (Google), regarded as the global center of digital innovation, employed around 58,000 people in 2012 with a turnover of 14 billion dollars at the time.

Whether, as the Oxford think tank thinks, almost every second current US job will be lost by 2030 and Europe will be affected as a result - in the medium term it actually looks as if intelligent, self-learning machines are even sawing at the positions that are currently being used are still considered unassailable decision-making functions. Forbes asked whether the in-house artificial intelligence Watson could replace the IBM boss Ginni Rometty, about the advancement of technologies, into which 40 billion dollars in research money flowed a year ago.

New job content

A few flashes of light: The world's largest hedge fund Bridgewater, for example, is working with a team that was involved in Watson's development on the ultimate boss algorithm - modeled on the human brain, but not moody, not irritable, never sick and of course 24/7 stable. However, provided with the worldview of the programmers, who, as soon as the AI ​​has actually become a teacher and trainer, are of course also obsolete in terms of their jobs.

But there too - new job content is emerging: What sounds dangerous as "brain hacking" and is known from scifi as cyborg - is also being worked on intensely, for example by Tesla founder Elon Musk. Microimplants in combination with so-called "intelligent" drugs should soon create the optimal human interface to artificial intelligence. According to reports from the Valley (microdosed LSD) everything is already there. Painting machines, composing.

So: Not only the hamburger roast is done by machine (350 to 400 pieces per hour), also strawberry picking. Management activities are already often done in this way: Project managers from bits and bytes hire micro-workers on the US crowdworking platform Mechanical Turk, assign task segments and learn to do this electronically themselves in the future.

Hitachi has algo bosses who assign tasks to employees and monitor execution, while damage assessment at Japanese insurer Fukoku Life uses artificial intelligence.

Career planning more difficult possible

Back to the HR manager. Is the job "safe"? Again: The content will be lost, the job will be redefined, because algorithms have long been sniffing out suitable profiles, automated scripts and neurolinguistic programs conduct job interviews, so-called people analytics checks and controls people - when do they make which mistakes? When do they produce absenteeism? In some places the employees are already chiped. Apps serve as conflict solvers and mediators, smart wristbands (at Tesco they are called "pickers") provide all the data. Who should "pull the plug" there?

At least one thing is clear at this point: classic long-term career planning is a thing of the past and is simply no longer possible. Not even for priests. According to The Future of Jobs (Oxford University), they only have a 0.81 percent chance of being automated quickly, but apps that record sinful behavior and demand punishment already exist. But also there: stop!

Nobody can say with certainty that computers will not be the most creative class on this planet in 30 years' time. But until then, activities that have to do with complex relationship contents, strategic creation and unpredictable ad-hoc problem solving (as in many manual professions), dealing with legal frameworks and ethical guidelines, are in human hands. Not untouched by the digital, but definitely not adopted. And: not all images of the future prove to be valid ex post. For example, John Maynard Keynes ’prediction that his grandchildren would work the 15-hour week - well, it’s more like the 15-hour day. (Karin Bauer, April 28, 2018)

Focus on "future of work":
Will robots take over our jobs? If so, what does that do to our society? What are the social consequences of the profound changes in the world of work that have only just begun? And what new opportunities does the technological change in work open up? We find the topic of "the future of work" so important that we dedicate this focus to it. In the coming days you will find on https://derStandard.at/Die-Zukunft-der-Arbeit a series of articles: The STANDARD editorial team interviewed researchers, drove to where the new world of work can already be felt, and thinks about essays - all handmade, of course.