What will we do when machines and computers replace work?
Last year I endured the ranting and raving of a gardener who I employed to cut the grass at my home. It wasn’t a completely smooth relationship – my gardener destroyed things by mowing over them and mowers by mowing over things and any threat of rain resulted in a” no show”. So, when in the spring of this year he rang to say he was not doing gardening any more I thought that it might be time for a change.
I first purchased one and then three robot mowers and set them up to cut the lawns. They start at 7am every day, come rain or shine. They cut until they need more charge and then return to their docking stations. They never complain or fail to show up and the lawns look great all the time as they are cut every day. But that’s one less job for a gardener and that made me think.
I also came across a piece of tech that’s replacing people in finance functions. It’s a piece of software that encompasses machine learning to match receipts into your bank account with outstanding debts. Linking this software to your bank account allows it to identify 85% of the receipts accurately even when you have large numbers of similar amounts. Over time the machine learning in the system identifies when repeat customers pay (if they have a pattern) and matching rates increase to around 95% with the 5% unmatched offered up for manual investigation. The pattern recognition is also fed into cash flow forecasting
So a second case of a machine doing a job faster and perhaps more accurately than a human being. I’m somewhat relieved that there is still the need for some human involvement, but as someone who loves efficiency, automating low value, repetitive tasks allows you or your team to spend more time on value adding stuff like chasing overdue debts rather than matching the stuff you have received.
So, as automation progresses in all industries, what will we spend our time doing? Well a 4-day working week and a three-day weekend is one idea and more holidays another. After all, when I was last asked what I was good at – “being on holiday” seemed the most accurate response!