Thursday, May 11, 2017

FYI: Robots, Journalism & Writing | Updated 3/7, 3/22, 4/6, And 6/1

In his article The 5 Jobs Robots Will Take First, CEO Shelly Palmer puts Journalists & Authors 3rd on the list of occupations in jeopardy! He wrote:

"Writing is tough. But not report writing. 
Machines can be taught to read data, pattern match images or video, or analyze almost any kind of research materials and create a very readable (or announceable) writing. 
Text-to-speech systems are evolving so quickly and sound so realistic, I expect both play-by-play and color commentators to be put out of work relatively soon – to say nothing about the numbered days of sports or financial writers. 
You know that great American novel you’ve been planning to write? Start now, before the machines take a creative writing class."


In an article he wrote 2 years ago, Palmer defined a white-collar worker as "a person who makes a living translating the value of (their) intellectual property into wealth" and defined a manual laborer as "a person who translates the value of their mechanical energy into wealth."
(Palmer, What Will You Do After White-Collar Work?)
I like the lily pads analogy...

In today's article he takes aim at white collar workers.The five jobs he listed are:
  1. Middle Management
  2. Commodity Salespeople (Ad Sales, Supplies, etc.)
  3. Report Writers, Journalists, Authors & Announcers
  4. Accountants & Bookkeepers
  5. Doctors
Palmer goes on to add that very few jobs are safe. He found these statistics on Obama's site: "There is an 83% chance that workers who earn $20 an hour or less could have their jobs replaced by robots in the next five years. Those in the $40 an hour pay range face a 31% chance of having their jobs taken over by the machines."


The closing paragraphs of his article are titled "What to Do About It." His conclusion: adapt. His bottom line is "...we can work on adapting our skills to become better than our peers at leveraging man-machine partnerships"

I'm in my 60s, and I'm writing a lot more than I did a decade ago.

Perhaps it's my old(er) age, but I cannot conceive of a "machine" being able to write my memoirs. I know how to present them in the context I think is important and relevant.
However, I have my own personal sit-by-my-side robot editor that monitors my writing at every keystroke: I  appreciate, depend upon, and routinely use the spelling and grammar "help" that my word processor provides. Thankfully, Microsoft's "Clippy" disappeared a decade ago; my "robot" has squiggly underlines instead of hands or a face.

Perhaps I have an inflated sense of self, but I cannot see a robot distilling Palmer's article like this. However, Facebook and LinkedIn are using automation to personalize its news feeds to individual subscribers.

Perhaps it's because I have so much invested in writing and creating new/different views, but I'm not ready to surrender writing my opinions. I've been collecting them for over 50 years.
However, I do realize that my computer and Internet skills from even a decade ago are now obsolete.

I'm not (yet) into writing fiction, but that field seems to be exempt from being lost to robots, unless, however, "robots start taking Creative Writing classes." :-)

However,  I am certain a "robot" will have a better writing work ethic than I have. I still suffer from Parkinson's Law. (The law, not the disease.)

I was considering accounting ~ automated accounting ~ as a possible career move.
However, maybe not: accounting was number four on the list, just after journalists.

"If you dislike change, you're going to dislike irrelevance even more." Eric Shinseki, 2001

[Note: all links in my articles will open in a new tab. If you open and read them as you go along read my posts then just close the tab and you will return here.]

Update June 1, 2017

A new website hopes to answer a question in the mindsof many people -- "Will my job be automated?"

If youre a priest, podiatrist, dentist, or photographer, you can expect to stay employed, according to the site. If youre a technical writer, taxi cab driver, or accountant, you might want to start retraining.

Update May 11, 2017

Sam Becker, 

This simply reinforces the points that I made above. Becker's article was talking about skills and jobs today's job-seekers should leave off their resumes: #11 was "Being a middleman"

"When was the last time you used a travel agent — if ever? Or if you’re looking at getting started with a financial adviser or investing, are you considering an actual human being or a robo-adviser? These are two examples of people being replaced with artificial intelligence or machines. Where there was once a need for a middleman, there’s now a program or service that allows you to easily find the information you need for yourself — be it about plane tickets or index fund?"

Update April 6, 2017
How Artificial Intelligence is Reshaping Life and Livelihoods

This is a longer, more in-depth article. It was sparked by an outreach to high-school students and how AI will affect their future:

"On a recent visit to Energy Institute High School in Houston, students were contemplating the impact of robots and artificial intelligence (AI) on their community."

What follows in the article is a long discussion on how AI arrived at its current state, including "AI is a growing web of related technologies that, given ubiquitous use, broke through to the popular press in 2016. When Google’s DeepMind beat the world champion Go player..." This is 2017, so I guess I'm a bit late in the game to be talking about it.

The author, near the end, has a bulleted list of 6 conclusions under the title "Life With Smart Machines" where he returns to his premise "...those high school students contemplating futures with smart machines."

This bullet ties back to my thoughts in this blog:

"4. Human judgment becomes more valuable as machine intelligence makes predictions cheap. Empathy and social interaction, creativity and design thinking, and an innovation mindset will be increasingly in demand." (emphasis mine)

Update March 22, 2017
Job-Stealing Robots? Millennials See Hope, Fear in Automation

This a popular topic. It's addressed, again, on Linkedin. This is my take-away:

"...'Don’t worry—I’ve never met a machine with courage and empathy.' We’ll still need those in the new economy. 

"To be sure, technology will change what we do. Tasks that are highly manual, routine, and predictable will be automated. But jobs are made up of many tasks. So the nature of existing jobs will change, and new careers will be created."

Update March 7, 2017

On March 5, Palmer wrote a follow-up article titled "The 5 Jobs Robots Will Take Last" (also on Linkedin). They are:
  1. Pre-school and Elementary School Teacher
  2. Professional Athlete
  3. Politician
  4. Judge
  5. Mental Health Professional
Not on the List: Artist (Dancer, Painter, Musician, Singer)

Palmer gives a one-paragraph explanation about why he believes each of these jobs are safe, for now. He also recommends other articles that he has written:

"Stop. Read Can Machines Really Learn? for a primer in machine learning. Then read AlphaGo vs. You: Not a Fair Fight to understand what is happening and why you should care about it. If you’re still not convinced, have a look at What Will You Do After White-Collar Work?. It will help put all of this in perspective."

In  Can Machines Really Learn?, Palmer examines Machine Learning and Pattern Matching, with a list of 10 practical examples, and how quality data will affect the learning process (GIGO).

I found one paragraph in AlphaGo vs. You: Not a Fair Fight to be a bit scary:   "If you analyze reports for a living, move numbers from one cell in Excel to another, play “What if,” project manage or evaluate productivity in almost any way, a system with AlphaGo’s capabilities [the game-playing machine] is going to learn how to do your job. It will be better at it than you could ever be..

Palmer concludes this 2nd article with advice similar to last week:

"Learn how your job is going to be automated. 
"Learn everything you can about what your job will evolve into and become the very best man-machine partner you can. 
"It’s the best way to prepare yourself for the advent of AI. 
"Lastly, don’t wait. 
"Everyone will tell you that none of this is happening anytime soon. 
"They are flat wrong. 
"But even if they are right, there’s no harm in being better prepared for an inevitable future."

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