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          xyHt  | Pangaea Past Issues | Field Notes Past Issues                                              March 14, 2017—No. 180

Will You Be Replaced by a Robot?

It’s difficult to open a magazine or look at an internet news site and not run across the “robots are going to take your job” theme. So, I’ve been doing a bit of reading on the subject, and I’ve come up with some very basic criteria for determining if your job may be on the short list for a robotic takeover.

It boils to “R & R.” If your job is “Repetitive and Routine,” then an automated algorithm may be waiting to take over your position.

Here’s a list of most-threatened jobs from a University of Oxford study on the subject of job automation. According to their research, the most at-risk jobs are: transportation and material moving, production, installation, maintenance and repair, construction and extraction [mining], farming, fishing, forestry, office and administrative work, sales, and service jobs.

I don’t see the profession of geospatial in there (whew!). But still, we have seen the encroachment of robotics into geospatial and, generally, to the benefit of the profession. Does anyone remember when GNSS came online and made two-person crews virtually obsolete? Robotic total stations, anyone? (Hint: they have the word “robotic” in their name.) What about the impact of UAS?

The fact is most of us view these robotic advances as a good thing. They offer both 1) a path to increased efficiency and productivity and 2) a chance to work with robots instead of being replaced by them.

Not everyone agrees, of course. For those who differ, I suggest an excellent article on the subject of innovation in land surveying: “Are You Ready to be Relevant?” by James M. Shaw, Jr., LS. Mr. Shaw’s observations and advice are spot on in my book.

For a more in-depth look at this subject on a wider societal scale, check out “What will future jobs look like?” a Ted Talk by MIT Economist Andrew McAfee.
 
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