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Gigaom AI Minute – March 23

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In this episode, Byron talks about jobs and automation.


At, there is a ten question test that scores how likely any given job is to be replaced by automation, be it by a computer or a robot. I'm going to spend ten AI Minutes going through the questions one at a time, and why they're on the test.

Question #3: How many people do your job?

You might score this one a 0 if very few people do it, if you have to tell people what it is and explain what you do. Maybe a literary agent, or a customs broker—there are very few of them. On the other hand, you would give this a 10, the highest score, the one that indicates something is more likely to be automated, if it's an established job that everyone knows about—a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, a gardener. And then, of course, there's something in the middle, where people have heard of the job, but very few people know one—a set designer, a sky diving instructor, an honest politician.

Why is this an indicator of automation? Most automation is driven by economic gain, and typically there's more gain to be had in automating jobs that more people do. The person who has a job, and they're the only one in the world who does it, or there are very few of them, it's unlikely that anybody's going to build a robot that will take over that job. Likewise, if it's a job that there are millions of them, that's an economic target for automation.

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