According to recent research, about half of all jobs in the US are vulnerable to computerization.
What does that mean?
Well, take a look at your computer. See it? Right, imagine that it has a kid – a super smart, maybe even mobile kid, which is going to be a mix of computer and robot – a robuter or combot, if you like…although the latter somehow sounds a bit dirty… Over the coming 20 years or so, that kid and its classmates might do up to 45 per cent of the jobs that you and your fellow meat bags do at the moment.
According to the research, the takeover is going to happen in two stages. First, the robot/computers are going to claim transportation/logistics, production labour, and administrative support as their domains. Of course, administrative support is already theirs, and both productions labour and certain parts of transportation are already dominated by computers. Just think of autopilots.
Some positions in services, sales, and construction might also end up going to robots in this first stage.
The ‘second wave’, as it were, could mean computers taking over jobs in management, science and engineering – as well as the arts.
The latter might lead to a massive resurgence for cubist art…and to ballets with ballerinas that can do 750 pirouettes a minute. So count me in.
Programmers and software developers are generally in high demand, can work with challenging problems and get paid pretty damn well to do so.
So it’s a great gig, right?
Well, to a points, it seems….because programmers and software developers are people. And people can always find something to worry about.
Proof, you want? Why then, Yoda, take a look at a recent article from IT World, that lists the five most scary things for programmers.
In reverse order of scariness, they are:
5. Incompetent management and coworkers
– Think blundering bosses, who thing that python must be dangerous to have in the office and C++ is a really strange grade to get.
4. Being forced to learn or use a specific technology
– Like being a trekkie and being forced to go to a Star Wars convention.
3. No longer liking my job
– How does knowing seven programming languages help me realise my (new) dream of becoming safari guide?
2. Losing my job
– Few words are as scary to programmers as ‘outsourcing’
1. Screwing up
– Let’s face it, programmers see bugs everywhere, all the time. And sometimes they’re actually there…
Sparkler Filters doesn’t use a software programme like Microsoft Excel when doing its books and inventory lists. The Texan company still uses punch cards and a IBM 402 computer – an archaic piece of equipment, made in 1948, and on the wanted list for many museums – to figure out where money should go, or when to re-stock.
To give an idea of what we’re talking about, let’s have a look at a IBM 402:
And what it looks like on the inside:
The reason that Sparkler Filters is still using the IBM 402 is rather endearing: it’s Lutricia Wood.
Lutricia Wood is head accountant at Sparkler and also the main data processing manager. Exactly 40 years ago, she started at Sparkler; it was a time when punch cards were still – to a certain extent – considered state of the art.
And – much like it the case with Lutricia Wood – Sparkler Filters seem to be working on the premise of ‘if it ain’t broke…’. And I for one quite like the idea that what may very well be the last functioning IBM 402 in existence is still punching cards somewhere in Texas.