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Will future technology leave you out of a job?

How future technology could lead to robots transforming Australia's workforce

Is future technology really going to take our jobs, or will it just make us better at them – enhancing our ability to work harder and smarter? We look at sectors where smart technologies are already making a splash, and what this could mean for the future of work.


Many Australians will be familiar with the financial-advice scandals that two of our biggest banks became embroiled in this year. We want our investing decisions to be based on honest and unbiased analysis, and artificial intelligence (AI) offers that promise. ANZ isn’t replacing its customer advisors with computers just yet, but they did recently announce that they would be using big data processing to help their advisors make more informed decisions.


In wages alone, a $250,000 robot that lasts 15 years could save a company $1.25 million compared to two human workers paid $50,000 a year. Robots also don’t get sick or need holidays. But the CSIRO assures us that we will still have a role to play (which doesn’t just involve building robots). Their iManufacturing – Is Australia ready? discussion paper highlights ‘iSkills’ – aptitude in data, networks and the Internet of Things – as being essential to future career success in the sector.


Future technology is unlikely to replace your family doctor, but AI is already helping clinicians improve diagnosis and care. IBM’s Watson uses cognitive computing to help doctors make better decisions based on the patient’s medical history. Robots are also finding roles in aged care. La Trobe University is trialling Japanese ‘social robots’ to help dementia sufferers cope better at home.

Customer service

Most of us are familiar with the self-service checkouts at the local supermarket. Automation isn’t all about replacing jobs, however. For instance, cloud-based CRM systems are giving small businesses the ability to deliver highly personalised offers and services to customers, using insights from many data sources. Ultimately, future technology is unlikely to replace the face-to-face customer experience that many people still prefer.

AI has already found its way into a wide range of products, from document management to camera autofocus systems. It can help us achieve more in less time, and do a better job while we’re at it. Going forward, our best chance of avoiding a robot apocalypse is to be smart about how we use technology, and to view it as an enabler rather than a disabler.

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