I thought this piece was insightful and worth reading: Too Many Jobs Feel Meaningless Because They Are.
One of the examples from the piece was especially insightful:
Consider the case of Eric, a history graduate hired to oversee a software project ostensibly intended to improve the coordination of different groups in a large firm. Eric only discovered after several years on the job that one of the firm’s partners had initiated the project, but that several others were against it and were acting to sabotage its success. His job — and that of a large staff hired beneath him — was a meaningless effort to put into place a change that most of the company didn’t want.
This is not to imply that all companies are like this. Companies can be efficient and well aligned and the vast majority of the people in it can feel like the work they are doing make a difference most of the time. However there are also companies which are not well aligned and there are conflicts within the organization. When that happens, the work being done may be meaningless, despite the fact that someone wants it done.
Work can be hard for a number of reasons: too much of it, difficult people to work with, etc. But it can also be hard if it is meaningless, even if everything else is good.
Possibly, but as this article argues, there are at least three areas where robots and suck at:
Creative endeavours: These include creative writing, entrepreneurship, and scientific discovery. These can be highly paid and rewarding jobs. There is no better time to be an entrepreneur with an insight than today, because you can use technology to leverage your invention.
Social interactions: Robots do not have the kinds of emotional intelligence that humans have. Motivated people who are sensitive to the needs of others make great managers, leaders, salespeople, negotiators, caretakers, nurses, and teachers. Consider, for example, the idea of a robot giving a half-time pep talk to a high school football team. That would not be inspiring. Recent research makes clear that social skills are increasingly in demand.
Physical dexterity and mobility: If you have ever seen a robot try to pick up a pencil you see how clumsy and slow they are, compared to a human child. Humans have millennia of experience hiking mountains, swimming lakes, and dancing—practice that gives them extraordinary agility and physical dexterity.
Read the entire article; there’s much more in it than that. But if your job has some element of those three qualities, chances are robots won’t be replacing you soon.
This piece: What it’s like to be a modern engraver, the most automated job in the United States — Quartz, reminded me once again that the best use of technology is to augment the people doing the work, and not simply take away the work. Must reading for anyone who’s believes that the best way to use AI and other advanced tech is to eliminate jobs. My believe is that the best way to use AI and other advanced tech is to make jobs better, both for the employee, the employer, and the customer. The businesses that will succeed will have that belief as well.
(Image from this piece on how humans and robots can work together.)
According to Haydn Waters, a writer at CBC, the mail robots at the corporation are being discontinued. Instead:
Mail will be delivered twice a week (Tuesday and Thursday) to central mail delivery/pickup locations on each floor.”
What gets lost in alot of discussions of robots, AI, etc., taking all the jobs is that the drivers for the decisions is not technology but economics. If there is no economical need for robots and other technology, then that technology will not just appear. There is nothing inevitable about technology, and any specific technology is temporary.
Of course there will be more use of robots and AI and other technology to replace the work people may currently do. The key to finding work will be to continually improvise and improve on the tasks one has to do to remain employed. That’s something humans do well, and technology will struggle with for some time in the future, AI hype not withstanding.
If you are looking to build AI tech, or just learn about it, then you will find these interesting:
- Artificial intelligence pioneer says we need to start over – Axios – if Hinton says it, it is worth taking note
- Robots Will Take Fast-Food Jobs, But Not Because of Minimum Wage Hikes | Inverse – true. Economists need to stop making such a strong link here.
- Artificial Intelligence 101: How to Get Started | HackerEarth Blog – a good 101 piece
- Deep Learning Machine Teaches Itself Chess in 72 Hours, Plays at International Master Level – MIT Technology Review – the ability of tech to learn is accelerating.
- Now AI Machines Are Learning to Understand Stories – MIT Technology Review – and not just accelerating, but getting deeper.
- Robots are coming for your job. That might not be bad news – good alternative insight from Laurie Penny.
- Pocket: Physicists Unleash AI to Devise Unthinkable Experiments – not surprisingly, a smart use of AI
- AI’s dueling definitions – O’Reilly Media – this highlights one of the problems with AI, and that it is it is a suitcase word (or term) and people fill it with what they want to fill it with
- A Neural Network Playground – a very nice tool to start working with AI
- Foxconn replaces ‘60,000 factory workers with robots’ – BBC News – there is no doubt in places like Foxconn, robots are taking jobs.
- 7 Steps to Mastering Machine Learning With Python – don’t be put off by this site’s design: there is good stuff here
- How Amazon Triggered a Robot Arms Race – Bloomberg – Amazon made a smart move with that acquisition and it is paying off
- When Police Use Robots to Kill People – Bloomberg this is a real moral quandary and I am certain the police aren’t the only people to be deciding on it. See also: A conversation on the ethics of Dallas police’s bomb robot – The Verge
- How to build and run your first deep learning network – O’Reilly Media – more good stuff on ML/DL/AI
- This expert thinks robots aren’t going to destroy many jobs. And that’s a problem. | The new new economy – another alternative take on robots and jobs
- Neural Evolution – Building a natural selection process with AI – more tutorials
- Uber Parking Lot Patrolled By Security Robot | Popular Science – not too long after this, one of these robots drowned in a pool in a mall. Technology: it’s not easy 🙂
- A Robot That Harms: When Machines Make Life Or Death Decisions : All Tech Considered : NPR – this is kinda dumb, but worth a quick read.
- Mathematics of Machine Learning | Mathematics | MIT OpenCourseWare – if you have the math skills, this looks promising
- Small Prolog | Managing organized complexity – I will always remain an AI/Prolog fan, so I am including this link.
- TensorKart: self-driving MarioKart with TensorFlow – a very cool application
- AI Software Learns to Make AI Software – MIT Technology Review – there is less here than it appears, but still worth reviewing
- How to Beat the Robots – The New York Times – meh. I think people need to learn to work with the technology, not try to defeat it. If you disagree, read this.
- People want to know: Why are there no good bots? – bot makers, take note.
- Noahpinion: Robuts takin’ jerbs
- globalinequality: Robotics or fascination with anthropomorphism – everyone is writing about robots and jobs, it seems.
- Valohai – more ML tools
- Seth’s Blog: 23 things artificially intelligent computers can do better/faster/cheaper than you can – like I said, everyone is writing about AI. Even Seth Godin.
- The Six Main Stories, As Identified by a Computer – The Atlantic – again, not a big deal, but interesting.
- A poet does TensorFlow – O’Reilly Media – artists will always experiment with new mediums
- How to train your own Object Detector with TensorFlow’s Object Detector API – more good tooling.
- Rise of the machines – the best – by far! – non-technical piece I have read about AI and robots.
- We Trained A Computer To Search For Hidden Spy Planes. This Is What It Found. – I was super impressed what Buzzfeed did here.
- The Best Machine Learning Resources – Machine Learning for Humans – Medium – tons of good resources here.
This piece makes a strong case that he is: Why Tim Cook is Steve Ballmer and Why He Still Has His Job at Apple. I’d add to it and say that people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were great people at a great time and a great place. Steve Jobs wasn’t terribly successful at NeXT: he was still great, but the timing of his ideas wasn’t and the company itself wasn’t either. Tim Cook and Steve Ballmer are very good CEOs, but they are not in the same league as Jobs and Gates, and you could argue that the time has come and gone for both Apple and Microsoft.
Apple has many good months and years ahead. We will have to wait and see if they can regain the golden era of Jobs and his new iMacs, iPods, and iPhones.
Is this you: despite having a great resume and being really good at your job, you aren’t appreciated at your current workplace or you are struggling to find a new place to work? If so, I encourage you to read this: The Life of a Free Agent Kicker | The Players’ Tribune
It doesn’t matter if you love or hate football, it is a great example of how you need to think in order to stay positive and maintain perspective when your work situation gets tough.
You can be great at your job, you can have a record of success, and you can still be rejected by employers. It can happen to anyone. You have to stay ready, stay focused, and do your best when the next opportunity comes along. Read the article and grab some perspective.
If you are a software developer or someone working in IT, you need to consider having more than a good resume or CV. You should consider having:
- an up to date profile in LinkedIn
- a professional web site (at least a one pager). It could be a blog, or an about.me page…something that provides information about yourself in a summary form.
- some repositories on github showing your work or an example of what you can do.
If you use github.io to host your professional web site, you get to cross off #2 and #3 with one effort.
I was reminded of this when I went to check out this page: DevProgress Tech Volunteer Questionnaire. You can see them asking for this information. It makes sense: if you are looking to hire a developer, it would be great to see not just what people are saying about them on LinkedIn, but what their code looks like too.
For some employees, putting code on github may not be an option. In that case focus on the first two and have a page somewhere on the web that discusses why you can’t host code there.
Posted in advice, IT
Tagged advice, careers, cv, github, IT, Jobs, LinkedIn, programming, resume, software
This post on Quora has a long list of jobs unique to specific countries. For example, in Iran, there are professional licence plate blockers, like this guy:
And why doe such a job exist? You will have to read this: What is a unique job that you’ve only seen in your country? – Quora
The whole thread contains dozens of jobs you can’t believe exist, but once you know something about them, they make sense. A great read.
Posted in work
Tagged Jobs, quora, work
Over at Operating Partner, DFJ, Heide Roizen has a great case study of how to negotiate with someone as tough to deal with as Steve Jobs. You may not be in IT, and you may never have to negotiate with someone as demanding and smart as Jobs, but check it out: you can learn something useful and read a great story too.