Fearful that technology was eradicating their jobs, in 1811 a group of English textile workers protested by destroying their weaving looms. The Luddites saw the introduction of automation as deskilling, casualising, and cheapening their labour.

SwissCognitiveWhat began as destruction of property grew into a direct confrontation with the British Army, and ultimately assassination, execution and transportation. Now workers are being threatened again, this time by artificial intelligence (AI), with every news site from Forbes to The Guardian screaming that “robots are taking all our jobs”. In truth, robots have been “taking all our jobs” since the 1960s.

Jobs are not equal to jobs

Generally, that has not concerned the thinking classes so long as the jobs being replaced were blue collar factory and warehouse automation. Delivery drones, driverless taxis, and automated lorry trains sit in the same class: threatening those people over there, therefore not a concern to us! So the latest flap over artificial intelligence as the ultimate jobs killer, is largely a result of an existential panic by the thinking classes. If AI can do the thinking, what are we going to do?

While this isn’t exactly keeping the average L&D professional awake at night just yet, you do hear it mentioned during coffee break conversations. No need to panic just yet. Every innovation since the wheel has had a destructive influence on what went before (the wheel put log rollers out of business), while creating a new wave of creativity and new things for people to do. Only months into embracing AI and Chatbots at Learning Pool our CTO has suggested we need to hire new employees called Conversation Consultants. 

We’ve looked at the Conversation Consultant’s job role, and to be honest, it is a pretty cool new job for Learning and Development. You take your client’s source content and train an AI application to understand it such that the learner can interact with it conversationally. Ultimately our goal is that learners will talk to their training. […]