Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Goodbye To Some Jobs, Hello A.I. And Bots

Technology is shifting labor usage once again.  The rise of tools, the Industrial Revolution, and robotics have caused labor to shift from hands-on to programmer. We see commercials for IBM's Watson, Apple's Siri, and the Amazon Echo.  They all are shown answering our questions and providing solutions to our queries.  And frankly, for simple questions like, what is the weather or what time is it or play a piece of music, they let our voices takeover for our fingers in seeking the answers from the world wide web.

And we are seeing an increasing usage of automation as we call out to customer service, whether it is for banking, cable, appointments, and other service related calls.  The need for a human being on the other end of the line means less need for actual customer service reps to handle your calls.  Unfortunately, they can't handle every unique problem, but most likely solve some leaving a smaller pool for actual CSRs to answer.  It may be why Verizon is letting their unions go on strike and not resolving their pay dispute.  One of the unions striking are the CSRs and Verizon probably feels they can get by without that many employees they need. Union demands may just run counter to what Verizon's new world requirements. 

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg recently announced plans to put A.I. bots into their Messenger app.  Per USA Today, "Facebook announced that businesses would be able to start using their messenger platform to buy and sell products and offer customers support."  Instead of going to a mobile app to make a purchase, you can use Messenger and start "chatting" to tell what you want to do, like buy flowers or order a pizza.  No more search as Messenger aggregates all those conversations.  And soon we can replace our typing with our voices to drive our purchase behavior. Amazon aims to do the same thing using its Echo device to search and handle commerce via the Amazon infrastructure. 

And the more we automate these communications and chats and orders, the less need we have for humans to do those jobs.  CSR centers will soon become like the dinosaur as the numbers of actual bodies in these businesses decline.  The rise of artificial intelligence in our commerce activities will continue to drive labor to seek alternative opportunities.  Jobs will go away as companies will find the economic advantages to bots over people, including no healthcare costs, no vacation pay, and a 24/7 work day.  It is the next great technological shift to occur in our labor market.