Home > macro economics > Who is Safe from the Robot Revolution?

Who is Safe from the Robot Revolution?

For those who know me know that I work in technology at a niche company that provides private banking software. While studying electrical engineering, one of my professor’s proclaimed (2001) that 80% of us will be in software…

Why does what I do matter? For two reasons:

Reason 1: What is stopping my employer from offshoring my job? I’m not the first to ask this question and won’t be the last… after all all I need to do my job is a device with network connectivity, that is it. This is true for all so called knowledge workers! Anyway, I won’t dwell on it and will leave it for another post…

Reason 2: Perhaps what I do can be eventually done by a robot? Perhaps this blog will be written by a bot in the future similar to how more trades are entered by algo traders. Should the high earning traders be worried?

Who Is Safe From the Robot Revolution?  via The Atlantic

First, they came for the assembly workers, and America didn’t speak out, because we were not all assembly workers. Then they came for the packers and sorters, and we didn’t speak out, because we were not all packers and sorters. Then they came for the weapons builders, the nurses, the surgeons, the soldiers, the astronauts, the maids, the lab researchers, and the lawyers …

Is it time to freak out about the growing role of robots in the economy?

Let’s look at two seemingly invincible sectors: law and health care. “E-discovery” programs can analyze millions of documents to search for keywords and patterns faster and cheaper than human lawyers. Lawyers don’t spend 100% of their time on discovery, but “if 50% of a worker’s tasks can be automated, then employment in that area can fall by half,” writes Martin Ford.

What industries should fear the bot the most? Paul Krugman answers with an influential report by Autor, Levy, and Murnane that argued that the distinguishing factor in replaceable jobs is routine versus non-routine, rather than white-collar versus blue-collar. Since some high-skill jobs are routine, this means computerization will result in greater demand for some “low-skill” occupations and lower demand for some white-collar jobs:


What industry will feel the pinch of automated technology next? How will the next generation of bots change the labor landscape? I don’t know. There’s too much data to sort through. Maybe you should consult a robot, somewhere.

I think bots are far from taking over as long as there is cheaper supply of highly educated and skilled labour…




  1. March 12, 2011 at 12:29 AM

    Dear Takloo. This is first time I am commenting on something outside my niche. – so, please don’t get upset if I said something wrong. We are still far off from building a bionic being –
    1. We can not yet properly introduce imperfection.
    2. The concept of neuro-nodal connection and intelligence if far from being understood.
    3. And as far as your and my jobs being off-shored – don’t worry – free yourself from that worry and let imagination take-off. No one could – in this world – ever beat an innovative mind.
    Wish you good luck with your study.

  2. March 12, 2011 at 6:46 AM

    As always, thanks for your thoughts and you are absolutely right.

    But I think the point is routine vs non-routine – I think it will be difficult to not automate any ‘routine job’ in the context of information processing.

    I began my career as a manual software tester – half my work day was planning which is non-routine and the other half was executing the plan – routine. I still can’t comprehend why software firms don’t use more automated testing using software.

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