“Only 5% to 10% of Jobs Can Have the Human Element Removed Entirely”

(p. A15) Careful studies using a task-based view of this sort find that, although substantial parts of many jobs can be automated—that is, technology can help still-needed workers become more productive—only 5% to 10% of jobs can have the human element removed entirely. The rate of productivity growth implied by the coming wave of automation would thus look similar to historical rates.

. . .

. . . the best insights into the future of work may be found in the trenches of everyday management. Take “Human + Machine,” by Accenture leaders Paul Daugherty and Jim Wilson, which opens in a BMW assembly plant where “a worker and robot are collaborating.” In their view, “machines are not taking over the world, nor are they obviating the need for humans in the workplace.”

The authors explain, for instance, why making robots operate more safely alongside humans has been critical to factory deployment—the very breakthrough emphasized by Dynamic’s CEO, but ignored by Mr. West. They describe AI’s role alongside existing workers in decidedly unsexy fields like equipment maintenance, bank-fraud detection and customer complaint management. And they illuminate the promise and pitfalls of implementing new processes that allocate some tasks to machines, requiring new forms of oversight and coordination.

Even in their overuse of acronyms and the word “reimagine,” the authors bring to life the realities of modern management. Readers gain a tactile sense of how technology changes business over time and why “the robots are coming” is no scarier an observation than ever before.

For the full review, see:

Oren Cass. “BOOKSHELF; Reckoning With the Robots; Automation rarely outright destroys jobs. It instead augments—taking over routine tasks while humans handle more complex ones.” The Wall Street Journal (Monday, June 25, 2018): A15.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date June 24, 2018, and has the title “BOOKSHELF; ‘The Future of Work’ and ‘Human + Machine’ Review: Reckoning With the Robots; Automation rarely outright destroys jobs. It instead augments—taking over routine tasks while humans handle more complex ones.”)

The book under review, in the passages above, is:

Daugherty, Paul R., and H. James Wilson. Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press, 2018.

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