We see lots of well-educated folks in comfortable, white-collar jobs claiming that robots will never replace their jobs. That statement might make them feel better, but will not help them in any way in the end. This is iatrogenesis at its finest.
For the nonmedical-industry reader, iatrogenesis is when harm is done by the very thing that is supposed to be helping.
In this spirit, we will discuss a seemingly counterintuitive idea (based on what we often read regarding our jobs, careers and future) and elaborate on why you should want your job to be replaced by robots.
Not only should you want your job to be replaced by robots, but you should help make it possible. And no, for the fans of dystopian sci-fi out there, this isn’t so we’ll be in our robot overlords’ good graces when the robot uprising happens. Rather, it’s because this will ultimately help your career and give you more meaningful opportunities.
Trying to replace your job with robots is like a gym for your career.
Let’s imagine you’re thinking about starting a gym routine but haven’t quite worked up the willpower just yet. The longer you wait to start working out, though, the harder it’s going to be when you finally have to face the reality of your physical state. And, if you wait too long, you’ll reach a point where you will never be able to go to the gym and work out.
Working out is uncomfortable (if it is not uncomfortable, you are not doing it right), but it makes your muscles stronger. By not working out, you are avoiding short-term pain, but are doing permanent damage to your muscles, making them so weak they won’t be able to bounce back or will deteriorate as you get older.
In a similar vein, instead of simply adhering to the accepted positive thinking that robots will not replace your job, maybe you should work to make it a possibility. It may be painful, but your muscles (career) will be stronger in the end.
Next time you see some technology that can do some or all of your job, instead of saying, “It can’t really do what I do,” or even worse, ignoring it, ask yourself, “How can I make that robot do what I do better?” Take your career for a workout, and try replacing your job with a robot. Research how robots could do what you are doing. If robots fall short, good for you. If robots come close to being able to do your job, you might want to think about what the world will look like with robots doing your job. What new jobs will come about as a result of this?
Through this exercise, you will know the weaknesses of robots and the direction the market is going, which gives you indications of what skills you should be developing or strengthening. Chances are these skills will be tied to more meaningful and fulfilling work as well. You’ll also develop the ability to adapt your career ahead of the curve before the rest of your industry catches on and it becomes mainstream. It’s not the strongest that survives, but the one that is most adaptive.
Even though this transformation may be hard, it is the one that bears sweet fruits for you and our society as a whole. So don’t be stuck in the past dreaming that robots can’t do your job. You should joyfully wish that robots will be able to do your job, so you can do more meaningful and fulfilling work.