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Cover image for What are you going to do if/when your position gets automated?

What are you going to do if/when your position gets automated?

jenc profile image jen chan Updated on ・1 min read

Let's take it real far: what are you going to work because your job got automated? (Not a speculation on whether it can be automated, but it actually just is)

Would you continue to design and code?

Discussion (22)

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stegriff profile image
Stephen Griffiths

Be the one who automated it ;) Maybe I can stay on maintaining and training the automation! And someone's gonna have to write docs and architecture for the thing... I suppose the hope of automation is that it moves humans up the value chain, not out of it! :)

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jenc profile image
jen chan Author

Perhaps if it happened overnight, that's an option. Doesn't AWS have a neural trained code review service?

Will we forever keep up with new developments in tech? I imagine 60 or 65 is my cognitive decline point. Maybe sooner. I can see myself still playing with libs and learning about how our machine compatriots think.

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Stephen Griffiths

Yep, fair points.

I know a lot of switched-on older people, my parents are 65ish and don't strike me as old or slow, so I'm hoping that I'll still be able to pick up things that interest me when I'm in a retirement home!

The biggest threat is that my eyes or hands stop working. But medical science etc. etc

We'll probably all be inhaling JavaScript X via the NextNet directly into our prefrontal cortexes in 2050 anyway

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jenc profile image
jen chan Author

I would like 50 extra brain-processing hours!

And yes, I guess physical or work injury is a real ultimate stopper.

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tropicalchancer profile image
Chance

That's a great (and tough) question.

A strong belief in both the necessity and joys of lifelong learning helps, though of course has its limits. Many of the top jobs (or to be more specific, skills) people seek now didn't exist 20 years ago, and I suspect many of the jobs people strive to get 20 years from now will be equally as novel or augmented.

From a career and financial perspective, the topic of "skills stability" is going to be a really interesting one over the next few decades as the pace of change continues to move rapidly.

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Dan Fockler

The idea of skills stability is interesting. I think we'll need more abstract skills that can be applied to many similar situations. For example I see more and more language agnostic companies, where you need to know the concepts of how the software is built moreso than the details. There will always be a need for people that can think abstractly about problems. Especially as we automate more and more industries, we'll create new, more complex problems to solve at a higher level of abstraction.

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jen chan Author

I agree, somehow we need to be prepared to make a case for how skills are transferrable and relevant. I think of the auto industry or grocery checkouts and think it is highly probable the technical side and rigour won't matter as much very soon.
There will still be problem solving work though

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dfockler profile image
Dan Fockler

My hope is that programming will get less technical and more creative. Of course those things aren't mutually exclusive though. I think webdev work will go the way of Photoshop where you can get the basics just by learning how to use a computer.

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brandinchiu profile image
Brandin Chiu

Of course.

There will always be a need for maintainers to exist the same reason why engineers are needed to fix assembly line machines in factories.

My role would change, but ultimately I'd still be relatively useful.

I might transition a greater percentage of my time to instructing though.

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jenc profile image
jen chan Author

One day development will be the tech support of automation, you think?

I'm thinking that the person-to-person component (aka management or client-facing stuff) will not diminish. I might move into that.

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steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao

Do something harder with the help of AI :)

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jenc profile image
jen chan Author

True, we could be curing cancer or decreasing homelessness :/

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Max Ong Zong Bao

Yup which we would need to borrow multi perspective of various mental models to solve problems.

Like for example a data science team doesn't stop with just a data scientist. Instead it consist of a team of statistician, software engineer, psychologist, designer, salesman & marketing professional to make it work.

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jenc profile image
jen chan Author • Edited

I believe the world needs more front line social work and interpersonal support, old age support roles as the inequalities increase due to climate change and wealth gaps... could it be that everyone is just a developer but it's as common as a taxi driver and they're sleeping in $1000 rental-tents in San francisco backyards?

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steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao

Yup which is why we tackle harder & complex problems with assistance from AI :)

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jenc profile image
jen chan Author

I appreciate your optimism 🌤

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endy_tj profile image
Endy Tjahjono

If software development got automated then can you still work as software developer? Maybe not.

How about as a hobby? Definitely some will continue.

What if the quality of the automated software is really bad? Or not possible for certain industry? Then some will continue in certain niches.

BTW I don't think AI is anywhere near the level of able to develop software, so I interpret automation as something similar to Amazon Mechanical Turk, i.e outsourcing.

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brandelune profile image
Jean-Christophe Helary

It is already. I'm growing potatoes, but not fast enough.

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jenc profile image
jen chan Author

I agree dev work is rather automated, but people have adapted. As you already noticed in previous conversations, my naive attempts at forcing myself to align with different startup models have sobered me to the realization industry generally wants to hire the most performant coders as if they're factory workers. If we enjoy it and have the social skills to deal with clients however we could still study it deeply enough to offer architectural solutions and designs for layouts, and just have the fastest coders or bots build them out...
It takes a couple years in the trenches. That's for sure

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Jean-Christophe Helary

I just read an article where AI is being fed the work of StarCraft or whatever game live players. Trenches will be full of AI grunts in the years to come.

The industry is building resilience and industrial grade resilience means factoring the human out.

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brandelune profile image
Jean-Christophe Helary

Which also means that humans have little to do in the "industry".
Art and potatoes. The rest is decorum.

Or, what kind of resilience can we build in human systems so that we can practice our art and grow our potatoes without having to be bothered by what the industrious industry thinks is good for us (or them, or whatever, but we don't want to know anyway).

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jenc profile image
jen chan Author • Edited

I'm interested to hear what @jess @ben @andy think

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