Last week I blogged about Automated Accountants, which was discussing chatbot use cases rather than full automation of a person. However the concept of automating what knowledge workers do today to the point were we really do have a fully automated accountant is something I have been researching too.
I had a twitter discussion with Vinnie Mirchandani (@dealarchitect) about automation as he is authoring a book on the subject. I agree with him that dirty and dangerous jobs are the first candidates for automation, but I also believe knowledge jobs are good candidates too and it will happen faster than many expect. In the world of finance we have seen continual adoption of technology to move us from paper based Ledgers to highly automated cloud accounting software with integrated reporting, social networks, mobile etc. I think the pace of change will accelerate because new technology is now so easy to adopt in the cloud and innovations are rolled out faster than ever before. So automation will happen quicker for those corporations that are already adopting these cloud based business applications.
I came across an interesting article on the BBC entitled Will a Robot Take My Job? which has some nice tools to let you search for your job and determine how likely it is to be automated and despite my earlier assertions I was surprised that accounting professions were so high on the list of those that would be automated. You can see my summary graphic below
The full report from Oxford University’s Martin School is worth a read as it goes into a lot of detail of skills that are hard for a machine to replicate and those that are easier so you can understand the reasoning behind the ratings. My profession in software development has a pretty low chance of being automated, I have to come up with original ideas and negotiate and these are things it is harder (at the moment) for machines to automate but it might just be a matter of time.
This will not happen in one shot, but over time more and more tasks will be automated, which is good because it will give is some time to think about the much bigger issue; what do we do now so much of what we as a workforce do is automated? The common wisdom is the workers will gradually move to work on higher value tasks that cannot easily be automated and drive greater and greater value. There is a lot of evidence to support this, but that discussion probably deserves a blog post of it’s own.