Cover Image: The Robots Are Coming!

The Robots Are Coming!

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Oppenheimer does a great journalistic job traveling around the world interviewing leading experts in AI. Sharing his experience and views on how the future will be different for all. It is a good conversation starter to raise interest on the subject.
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A fascinating but scary look at the jobs that will be taken over by robots.The author write in a clear fashion educating us to how jobs will change.This is an interesting and at the same entertaining wel written book.#netgalley #knopfdoubledaybooks
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A fascinating look at the future of worldwide employment with the current trend of automated jobs that were previously done by humans. From warehouse workers to hotel desk clerks, technology is slowing taking over the workforce. Oppenheimer makes some bold, startling predictions, and it will be interesting to see how much of it he gets right.
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THE ROBOTS ARE COMING! by Andres Oppenheimer deals with "The Future of Jobs in the Age of Automation." The author begins by referencing an Oxford study on the Future of Employment that was published in 2013 and predicted that 47 percent of jobs could disappear over the next fifteen to twenty years due to automation. The World Economic Forum and Aspen Institute have offered similar perspectives more recently. Next, Oppenheimer offers what he calls a "practical guide" for each of these professions: journalists, service workers (restaurants and retail), bankers, lawyers (with accounting and insurance), doctors, teachers, manufacturing/transportation, and entertainers. The final chapter and epilogue deal with jobs of the future (healthcare assistants, data analysts, digital security, robot maintenance (!)) and adaptations for other professions (teachers, entertainers, etc.). I spent most of my time on the section regarding changes to education where Oppenheimer stresses that teacher roles will evolve to focus even more on being a motivator, promoting curiosity, valuing persistence and grit. Although somewhat superficial in its pronouncements, positives of this work are that he traveled to numerous countries and is removed enough from most professions to be able to synthesize and more objectively label trends than current practitioners may be able to do. Hear more of Oppenheimer’s views on C-SPAN where he offers a lengthy discussion of THE ROBOTS ARE COMING! 

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My trip to CES earlier this year has cast a long shadow. 

One of the themes at the show was how AI was going to be the next big thing—or, if you happen to be working in an industry where it’s already a big thing, how AI is going to be even bigger—and while I could appreciate all the reasons why, my reaction at the time was more “ho-hum”. 

Let’s face it: it’s hard to get all hot and bothered by AI when you live and work in the periphery of the technology universe and there are more pressing matters to attend to than how cool it is to interact with your speaker using voice commands. 

Still, I’ll admit that CES has since piqued my curiosity about AI and how society, culture and norms will inevitably be changed by it. Now comes a book on precisely that topic in The Robots Are Coming!: The Future of Jobs in the Age of Automation.

The book is journalist Andres Oppenheimer’s opus from five years of exploring how algorithms and automation are disrupting the modern workplace. It documents his travels around the world to witness firsthand the different ways that robots of all kinds are both displacing workers and creating new capabilities at the same time. At the core of his investigation are fundamental questions we should all be wrestling with in the age of AI: will the current pace of innovation in automation ultimately destroy more jobs than it creates, and is this the kind of world we’d like to have?

Opennheimer strives to maintain a level-headed tone throughout The Robots are Coming!, yet it’s impossible to miss the visceral and alarmist reaction he has to the many things he’s discovered. The robots are coming for journalists: already, algorithms write basic reportage based on pre-determined templates at some of the world’s most reputable news organizations. Robots are coming for service workers: tablets and automated machines are replacing waiters and even chefs at establishments around the world. They’re coming for entertainers: it is already possible to create digital simulacra of actors that are almost impossible to tell apart from the real thing. Robots are coming for lawyers, for doctors, for bankers, for teachers, and of course factory workers, too.

In contrast to the fiat optimism with which tech evangelists approach the promise of AI, Oppenheimer draws several more sanguine conclusions in The Robots are Coming. First, and most importantly, the jobs that are most threatened by AI and automation are those that are simple and routinary; the harder a job is to describe, the more difficult it will be for a robot to replace it. Second, while it’s likely that automation will create more jobs than it destroys in the long run, there will be great displacement and disruption in the workforce over the short term, leaving the less skilled the most vulnerable. This will likely be the defining challenge of the modern day workplace for the next generation, because whether we like it or not this is the world we are increasingly going to have. 

This thought in particular has given me pause, precisely because in my own limited experience I have already seen it happening—and like I said, I live in the periphery of the tech universe. There are any number of chatbots out there that help me out with customer service, or any number of restaurants where I can dine and place my order or settle my bill from the convenience of my seat thanks to a table-side tablet. Sure, this is automation writ small; but what will happen when the technology gets cheaper, and the environment needed to support it (stable bandwidth, reliable mobile coverage, etc.) also catches up? At that point, I think, we will feel the gains and losses from automation even in my neck of the woods.

It’s just as easy to be amazed by the technologies that Oppenheimer describes as it is to be anxious about the impact these will have upon those who will inevitably be displaced. But there is no better way to prepare for either than with a healthy dose of reality, which The Robots are Coming! serves up in spades.
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A very interesting, informative and engaging book!
I liked the style of writing, the clarity of the explanations and how well researched this book is.
It was fascinating and a bit terrifying at the same time but I really appreciated the work of this author.
Highly recommended!
Many thanks to Knopf Doubleday and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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Thank you Netgalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This is a very informative and easy to understand book. The author informs the reader  of the industries that will be most impacted by robots and what that would mean for the job market. I did like that he posed both the pessimistic and optimistic views of how changing technology would affect it. I found it very interesting and a bit scary where we are heading. I just hope we're ready.
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"The Robots Are Coming" and this book delivers all the details. We learn about which jobs will disappear and which jobs are worth studying for future employment. I learned a great deal from this book and I highly recommend it.
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