FEATURE12 December 2016

The job market: thinking outside the ‘bots’

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Impact Opinion UK

Machine learning is all the rage, so should researchers fear the rise of the robots, asks Sinead Hasson.

Machine learning_crop

Humans aired on Channel 4 last year, telling the story of an ordinary suburban family that recruits a ‘synth’ – a human-like robot –  to help around the house. The trailer for the programme prompted viewers to inquire where they could purchase such a robot. Demand was high, expectations higher – and, I suspect, disappointment higher still when viewers realised the trailer was simply for a fictional drama.

But hiring an automaton to help with domestic chores is no longer a dream; you can buy robots to mow your lawn nowadays. But they are not just replacing gardeners – they are allegedly set to replace a host of white-collar workers too. So will every formulaic role eventually become robot fodder?

Much has been written lately about machine learning and its benefits in market research – primarily that a machine, without any agenda, may identify trends and behaviours that the human analyst may not. It can sift through far ...