Intriguing or scary, there is no avoiding the inevitable.
Automation and machine learning is evolving at an alarming rate, however beneficial, it’s no secret that it comes with a multitude of societal problems.
Robots are and have been starting to replace humans working in factories and other manual jobs.
However, will they ever replace white-collar workers? Fred Destin, a former general partner at Accel, a leading venture capital firm heavily involved in the tech sector; has predicted that automation will wipe out up to 70% of white-collar roles, mainly in the legal and insurance area.
Speaking at The Europas conference in London, he stated “The next wave will destroy white-collar jobs at speed and at scale”.
He talked about an automation exercise by Deliveroo’s CTO, Mike Hudack, who joined from Facebook late last year.
According to Destin, Hudack used automation to make Deliveroo’s (online takeaway service) ordering process more efficient. Using automation, Deliveroo reduced the amount of contact it has between the initial order being placed to the driver delivering the food “By 98%” – making 25 people redundant in the process.
Although baring in mind it is estimated that Deliveroo has over 13,000 employees and no one actually got fired, it was highlighted that the project showed the increasing risk of automation and machine learning to technical jobs.
Figures disclosed by PwC in March suggest Destin may be right about automation taking peoples jobs, although the numbers presented are generally more conservative.
For instance, PwC found 32% of financial and insurance jobs are currently at risk from automation.
That’s still a higher percentage of jobs than most other industries, but lower than areas like manufacturing, where 46% of jobs are at risk, and waste management, where 63% of jobs are at risk.
As always the more inclined companies are at making their services more efficient/cheaper through machine-learning and automation, the more likely you could be seeing the end of your traditional blue and white collar jobs.