The robot is no longer science fiction – and it’s already had a huge impact on the job market.

With technology changing faster than ever before, it’s just plain common sense to look at your own skill set and ask the obvious question. ‘Could a robot do what I’m doing?’

So far, of course, the biggest impact has been in manufacturing. Robots can machine components. Take them to a warehouse – and retrieve them. Even put them together on an assembly line. But up to now we’ve still needed people to design those components. To write the necessary programs for the robots. And to supervise the production process.

Artificial Intelligence – AI – could very well change all that. But, at the moment, no one really knows how, exactly, that’s going to work.

But we’ve been here before. And triumphed. Because on 8 March – International Women’s Day – it’s appropriate to remember the story of Katherine Johnson, which hit the big screen in the film ‘Hidden Figures‘.


Threat – or opportunity?

Katherine was an African American woman whose natural talent for complex maths won her a place as a ‘human computer’ working for NASA. There – working against racial segregation and a male-dominated establishment – she made an invaluable contribution to the space programme.

In theory the arrival of the first IBM computer should have made her and her team redundant. It didn’t – because she saw it not as a threat, but as an opportunity. She made the effort to learn its programming language, FORTRAN – and then passed on what she’d learned to the others.

Her commitment to lifelong learning earned her a place in history as part of the team behind the successful Moon landings. And her calculations helped ensure the stricken Apollo 13 spacecraft made it safely back to Earth.


Celebrating enterprise…

If that story strikes a chord with you, then UNESCO would like to hear from you. Their Wiki4Women project is compiling stories about women who have beaten the odds in the fields of education, science, culture, social and human sciences, or communication and information. And this week (4-8 March) has also marked UNESCO’s Mobile Learning Week – which I’ve been following as closely as I can. Appropriately, its theme is Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Development – and here at Blue Novation we’re taking its key message very much to heart:

“The rapid growth in AI technologies will also significantly impact the skills required by different sectors. Already today, there is a major skills gap in the labour market when it comes to AI-related jobs and skills. Educational institutions and training providers will need to address these skills gaps… In particular, the notion of lifelong learning has emerged as one of the key strategies for job security and employment in the digital era.”


…and offering a helping hand

We can’t all be like Katherine Johnson – by any standards she was an exceptionally gifted, talented and determined woman. But we can all be ‘lifelong learners’.

I recently heard about a man who wrote the last pages of a novel – on his PC – just three days before his death. He’d had macular degeneration, which in his case meant an 80% loss of vision, for nearly 20 years. He’d been in a care home for three months. And he was 98 years old – old enough to remember a Zeppelin raid on London during the First World War. But he never, ever stopped learning – and using what he’d learned.

So how could you begin your personal fightback against the robot?

Why not with software that’s been at the forefront of productivity tools and work practices for over forty years? Yes, we’re talking about spreadsheets – and Excel in particular.

Does it have a future? Definitely. The breeze from Microsoft is that Excel’s next generation will ‘extend dramatically the reach of what end users can do with spreadsheets’. And when it does, we’ll be telling you about it – and helping you reap the benefits. Ensuring that you, too, can be doing a job a robot won’t take away from you.

So if you’d like to sharpen up your Excel skills, ready for the next quantum leap, then there’s no time like the present. Give us a call on 0345 11 88 150 or drop us an email to arrange a free consultation. No charge, no obligation.