The Pulse

Are Robots Coming for Your Job?

New York Times columnist Kevin Roose shares nine rules for humans to survive the age of automation

In his new book Futureproof: 9 Rules for Humans in the Age of Automation, Kevin Roose outlines the ways we can live in a world that is increasingly built by and for machines. Roose, who is a technology columnist for The New York Times, spoke with Katie Couric in the latest episode of The Pulse. Together, they discuss his new book and the lessons he believes will help protect our jobs and our future. 

“It wasn’t just factory workers that were in the line of fire from AI and automation,” Roose told Katie. “It was white-collar professionals.” Roose explains that the Covid-19 pandemic has only accelerated this shift towards the adoption of AI and automation within companies. 

According to a Mckinsey report, the number of people who are going to be displaced due to automation by the year 2030 has increased from 37 million to 45 million since the pandemic started. 

“It’s happening at a speed that I don’t think people fully understand,” Roose explains. 

Roose argues that the key to surviving in an economy that is largely dependent on automation is by focusing on the human skills that machines cannot do. He describes these skills as the ones we learn in kindergarten. “It’s skills like empathy, communication, moral courage,” Roose told Katie. “Those are the places we need to focus our time and energy on.” 

In his book, Futureproof, Roose outlines nine rules to follow to thrive in the age of automation. These rules include: 

1. Be surprising, social, and scare: These are the three categories of work that are least automatable. 

2. Resist ‘machine drift’: Whether it’s relying on Netflix to tell you what show to watch or Twitter to tell you what news to read, you are turning over a lot of choices to AI. You must resist the loss of control and bring those choices back to your own mind.

3. Demote your devices: Your phone is the robot you deal with all day. It’s become your bosses. It’s not helping you become more human. At a time where you need to become more human, it’s actually making you more like a machine. 

4. Leave handprints: Make your job as human as possible. Even if you’re an accountant or a layer, show the humanity in your work. 

5. Don’t be an endpoint: There’s a lot of jobs where humans serve as the connecting points between two machines. These jobs are really dangerous and will be the first ones to be automated.

6. Treat AI like a chimp army: Focus on the dangers of over-automation.

7. Build big nets and small webs: Help adapt and equip societies and communities to prepare for this wave of automation. 

8. Learn machine-aged humanities: Learn and teach the deeply personal skills that people will need to know in this new economy.

9. Arm the rebels: Support people in the tech industry who are trying to fight back against the age of automation.

Written by Eliza Costas