Frey says the major innovation has been the result of a decade of new ways to process information. “I do not think that anything is dramatically different from two years ago,” he says. “What has happened over the past 10 years, however, is that more big data is becoming readily available for algorithms to draw upon, and approaches to machine learning have become more sophisticated.”
The result is big steps, like a computer acting as floor manager at a warehouse, or an app doing a better job of finding you cheap vacation flights than a travel agent.
But those are all anecdotal pieces of information, and in keeping with the theme here, it’s important to look at the bigger meaning.
To put a fine point on it, many jobs simply won’t meet the criteria to be kept in the “human” element. A colleague and research partner of Frey’s said last year that as much as 47 percent of jobs could be overtaken in the next couple of decades Frey wouldn’t predict specific cutbacks—his research is not a direct cause-and-effect system, and it’s fair to assume that just because the technology is there, doesn’t mean that companies will be quick to adopt it. “We do not make predictions about future job losses,” says Frey, “but examine how susceptible different occupations are to automation.”