The Impact Of Automation On The Human Workforce And How It Can't Encroach On The Creative World
Whenever the word “automation” is uttered, we tend to think of robots in massive factories doing “mundane” tasks that, previously, a human would have had to do.
While this might be a small fraction of it, the world of automation extends much beyond the confines of the stereotypical images we conjure in our heads. In fact, you may not have even realised just how much of our daily life has been automated already.
Just take a moment to think about it.
While the older generations have had to drive stick shift cars, today, one can purchase an automobile with automatic transmissions, which we all can agree are far easier to drive, especially for longer distances.
GPS and navigation apps have replaced the need for physical maps while travelling.
Phone calls no longer need to be routed through switchboard operators. You can easily ring up another person and chat endlessly without even needing to hold your device, thanks to headphones.
Even when it comes to routine tasks like cooking, you can now find all sorts of gadgets and devices that will make peeling, chopping, grinding, and even the final processing of food a lot more convenient than ever before.
Automation isn’t just about bots or artificial intelligence taking over human jobs. It simply refers to any equipment/technology that requires minimal input from people while simultaneously increasing productivity or efficiency.
But what does this mean for the future of humankind?
Will we all be rendered obsolete in a world run by technology?
What can one expect when it comes to workplace automation?
If conventional jobs go out the window, will the creative arts meet the same fate?
We’re sure you have plenty of questions like these. That is why we want to take some time today and talk about how automation isn’t something one necessarily needs to be afraid of.
Impact Of Automation On The Workforce
When it comes to automation in the workplace, the picture does get a bit murky. That’s partly because we are all bombarded with sensational headlines that say things like “These many jobs in the XYZ industry will be replaced by AI-driven technologies” or “Humans will need to co-exist with robots in workplaces of the future.”
Well, you get the point. Right?
The truth, however, is not that simple. Automation has already infiltrated the workforce, and it hasn’t really bothered us up to this point.
Here are a few examples of what we’re talking about.
Automation is widely used in manufacturing plants to perform repetitive tasks, such as assembly, welding, and painting. Furthermore, robotics is often used to automate these tasks so that companies can produce goods more quickly and efficiently, and uniformly, as well as with fewer errors.
The retail industry is also relying heavily on different software to streamline processes, such as inventory management and customer service. For example, self-checkout kiosks are becoming increasingly common at retail stores, and chatbots are being used to provide customer service online.
Now, you must also have read many shocking facts and figures about automation online. For instance, 69% of jobs in India are expected to be threatened by automation in the workplace over the next 20 years. Or so some pundits believe.
This can sound quite alarming to those who have just started working because it points to a future without any job stability. Moreover, every day, we hear about newer and “better” technology that makes it seem as though even something as inherently “human” as the world of art will be overtaken by computers.
All of these conflicting and worrisome thoughts must have ignited a fundamental question – what is the future of creativity? Will it, too, get automated in the long run? Le
Automation Cannot Encroach On The Creative World! Well, Not Completely.
Mary Lou Cook once said, “Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.”
Suffice it to say that art forms are nothing without the artists themselves. Or, perhaps, a better way to say it is that creativity is a uniquely human feature – one that cannot be replicated by even the most advanced bots or artificial intelligence itself.
After all, you can’t teach someone to be creative and innovative; it’s just something that someone is.
That is why we believe that automation cannot encroach on the creative world because creative arts require human intuition and judgement; that cannot be copied by sophisticated computers.
After all, art is born of human emotion, and tasks like creative writing or even the performing arts require a level of nuance and talent that further has to be honed over the years. In other words, even if someone is an excellent singer or painter, they’re only going to find their creative style with enough practice and exposure to the field.
Take creative writing, for instance. A person could possess raw talent and string together the most beautiful phrases to ever be written. But that doesn’t mean they’ll also possess the skills necessary to come up with, say, an equally gripping fictional story that does justice to the plot and the characters.
After all, the best creative writers know that their work has to “show, not tell,” which is easier said than done. That is why only people who read and write consistently and expose themselves to the works – and criticism – of others can develop the critical skills needed in creative writing.
The same is true for any art form. Without the “human experience,” it is going to be next to impossible to create anything that resonates with other people.
On the flip side, while it is true that certain tasks can be difficult to automate, one should also understand that automation could potentially be used to augment or support the artists themselves.
For example, automation in certain areas could be used to perform routine tasks, which would free up creative professionals to focus on more high-level tasks such as brainstorming and problem-solving. In effect, this could allow creative professionals to be more productive and efficient and could potentially allow them to take on more complex and challenging projects.
Don’t graphic designers use software like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop for things like resizing, creating templates, and applying colour corrections, that otherwise would take a lot of time and effort to do traditionally?
At the same time, it is important to recognise that automation could potentially have an impact on the way that creative work is valued and compensated.
Artificial intelligence programs like Dall-E, Midjourney and Stable Diffusion can easily muster up stunning images based on a text description, all in a matter of minutes.
However, industry experts have gone on the record to say that human intervention is still very much needed with AI-driven art forms. They even argue that this is essential when you consider all the racist and prejudiced inclinations of humankind that are being picked up by artificial intelligence programs along the way.
Moreover, many artists have also said that AI-driven artwork makes for excellent references, especially when it comes to more complicated, fantasy-based themes.
The debate surrounding automation and art forms reminds us of the early 20th Century. This was a time when silent movies were all the rage. But as technology developed, so did cinema.
Today, we don’t look at the incorporation of sound and music into movies as an “evil,” even though there were flagrant concerns regarding the future of cinema back in the day. It’s just that the movie industry has adapted to these changes. Now, it is a $77 billion venture worldwide!
Even ChatGPT seems to cough up a lot many short-form articles and emails on command. But remember, they can only mirror what writers worldwide have already created; they can’t create completely fresh material.
In the same vein, if automation takes over some tasks that were previously in the domain of creative professionals, it could potentially drive down the demand for human labour in those areas. Consequently, this could lead to a situation where creative professionals are no longer able to demand the same level of compensation for their work.
This could be a bump in the road. But those in such fields can continuously learn and adapt in order to stay competitive in a changing job market. This might mean they would have to acquire new – and relevant – skills or develop new areas of expertise that are less susceptible to automation.
There’s also a very important factor we cannot overlook; most jobs in the world of art require a high level of human interaction and collaboration to come up with the best results. And this level of interpersonal communication and relationship building is not something that computers are not capable of.
Before We Part Ways
Overall, it is important to recognise that automation has the potential to change the way that work is done in many industries, and this includes the creative world. But that does not mean creativity itself will be replaced by artificial intelligence.
After all, the world of art is a uniquely human byproduct, and computers or AI-driven technology can, at best, supplement the efforts of the artist. But they cannot step into the shoes of the person and recreate their experiences satisfactorily.
Hence, we’re pretty confident that the performing arts and creative arts aren’t going to be sidelined completely by automation. Even in the worst-case scenario, artists will only need to adjust to the world of automation and incorporate this technology into their own creative process, not the other way around.