Volkonski wrote: ↑Thu Mar 25, 2021 2:46 pm
The Robots Are Coming for Phil in Accounting
Workers with college degrees and specialized training once felt relatively safe from automation. They aren’t.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/06/busi ... 9984224256
These robots are here to merge purchase orders into columns J and K of next quarter’s revenue forecast, and transfer customer data from the invoicing software to the Oracle database. They are unassuming software programs with names like “Auxiliobits — DataTable To Json String,” and they are becoming the star employees at many American companies.
Some of these tools are simple apps, downloaded from online stores and installed by corporate I.T. departments, that do the dull-but-critical tasks that someone named Phil in Accounting used to do: reconciling bank statements, approving expense reports, reviewing tax forms. Others are expensive, custom-built software packages, armed with more sophisticated types of artificial intelligence, that are capable of doing the kinds of cognitive work that once required teams of highly-paid humans.
White-collar workers, armed with college degrees and specialized training, once felt relatively safe from automation. But recent advances in A.I. and machine learning have created algorithms capable of outperforming doctors, lawyers and bankers at certain parts of their jobs. And as bots learn to do higher-value tasks, they are climbing the corporate ladder.
The trend — quietly building for years, but accelerating to warp speed since the pandemic — goes by the sleepy moniker “robotic process automation.” And it is transforming workplaces at a pace that few outsiders appreciate. Nearly 8 in 10 corporate executives surveyed by Deloitte last year said they had implemented some form of R.P.A. Another 16 percent said they planned to do so within three years.
Sure, processing expense reports is a dying job. But Concur and other packages to do that have been around for 20-plus years.
And low-level software libraries like the "Auxiliobits" example are a tiny part of a C# application suite -- they are small-scale building blocks that make life a tiny bit easier for developers. There are indeed millions of easily obtained software components that have been made available courtesy of the Open Source software innovation paradigm. But they don't put many people out of work because they don't do enough to offset the rapidly increasing complexity of a given software project. In particular, testing and back end scalability and security issues are making a formerly trivial project orders of magnitude harder.
And doctors are not going to lose jobs because of AI. Yes, AI engines are better at diagnosing melanomas than experienced dermatologists, but if you look at the percentage of their time they spend on that task, it's minimal. Instead of unemployment, they'll be able to spend their time on more aggressive curing of more advanced melanomas, which there will be more of because AI will substantially reduce the number of false negatives.
We've been hearing about how computers are going to replace everyone's jobs for as long as there have been computers. Yet employment is higher now than ever before. Just another filler piece with nothing new.