4 Abilities You Need to Avoid Being Replaced by a Robot

Feb 20, 2013
6 Min Read

One of the hottest economic topics right now is the rise of automation. Companies like iRobot have made major advances in machinery over the past few years and are starting to take the jobs that humans used to do. If you saw the movie "I, Robot" with Will Smith, you would have some idea of the threat robots could have in our economy. Instead of physically attacking us like in the movie, they could steal our jobs because they are cheaper and faster. Many of the existing jobs that humans do today, machines will eventually do better tomorrow. Almost all American factories are at least somewhat automated now. Advances in technology are allowing cars to drive themselves and computer programs to do work for us. Robots, at least the ones that currently exist, can do things you can't even imagine from sorting data to flipping  burgers and more.

In Wired Magazine, Kevin Kelly reports that two hundred years ago, 70 percent of the American workforce lived on a farm. Today, automation has replaced all but 1 percent of those jobs, and before the end of this century, 70 percent of today's occupations will be replaced by automation. Here are some of the skills and qualities you need to have in order to hold onto your job despite improvements in automation over the coming years:

The Ability to Sell

Over the past few years, selling has become important for all workers not just the sales team. You have to be able to sell yourself, your ideas and influence others to take action, whether that's purchasing a product or investing in a project. Machines will never have the influence to sell like a human can. Selling involves human emotion, impulse, attention and the ability to build rapport and trust. We may trust machines to do busy work, and we may purchase products online after interacting with a machine, but at the end of the day, people buy from people.

The Ability to Think Creatively

While robots can solve some analytical and math problems quite well, they can't think creatively and emotionally. You need to be able to come up with ideas, adjust to new realities and problem solve. In most cases, you are hired to solve one or more problems that an organization is facing. Machines are good at calculations and solving formula's but not at understanding needs, wants and desires. In a new study by the American Management Association, they found that the majority of executives say that the ability to think critically and solve problems is highly valued at every level of their company.

The Ability to Lead a Team

Robots aren't going to be in leadership positions anytime this century but you can. Learn how to lead a team in order to accomplish goals and you'll set yourself apart. It's a skill that needs to be developed through experience, so position yourself as someone who is dependable, trusted and can work well with others. This way, when the right project comes along, you might be asked to be the project manager and from there, you can take more of a leadership role in your organization.

The Ability to Build a "Social" Network

Robots are still working in the information economy, while the world has moved to a social one. If you focus on not just accumulating knowledge, but creating relationships, you will have an advantage. The more connected you are, the more valuable you become. We accomplish tasks through people and now with social networking, you can access people anywhere in the world for your next project.


Photo Credit © 20th Century Fox Movies

Recomended Posts