All of us who have watched The Terminator films are well-aware that robots are going to take over the world and destroy mankind using artificial intelligence. According to the script, it should happen sometime before 2029. However, now is not the time to worry about that. The more relevant and more immediate concern is that a robot is going to take your job first.
It’s a silent uprising that’s occurring in the background because it’s not an actual robot that is replacing you. It’s software – software that’s designed to automate large departments of corporate employees, rendering human roles redundant.
Unfortunately, the likelihood of someone from the future coming to save you is rather slim. So, how does one protect themselves from software automation and job terminating robots? The answer is simple. Learn how to be an effective boss of the robots by speaking the language they speak – Software coding. Learning how to write and speak code isn’t only necessary for “robot-proofing” your future employment, but also to improving skills that can be effective in your job right now.
Software has already permeated nearly every industry and there’s code base that now touches virtually every department of a growing population of global companies. Just ask Joanne Lipman, editor-in-chief of USA Today, who recently suggested in an interview with Business Insider that aspiring journalists should build up their tech chops.
“Learn to code,” she said. “Make sure that you take some classes. Not heavy-duty computer science necessarily, but learn development and programming. Learn to work with data and data visualization.”
Meanwhile, the former CEO of GE, Jeff Immelt once wrote to his employees, “It doesn’t matter where you are in sales, finance or operations. You may not end up being a programmer, but you will know how to code.”
Senior leaders know that by investing in getting you to learn how to code, that you will be able to automate at least a small portion of your existing job duties, which will result in more efficiency, more cost savings, and bigger bottom lines. The easiest place to start thinking about how new programming skills could benefit your current career is in connecting the software tools you already use and getting them to “speak” to each other.
Imagine for a moment that you are a salesperson at a Fortune 500 company and you can’t get access to sales leads from your company’s website until the next business day at 9 am. If you knew the very basics of coding, you could arrange for those leads to be texted to you instantly, complete with full contact information, the moment they are posted to the company website. All you’d need to know is how to work with the Twilio API and you would pay a fraction of a penny ($.0075 per lead to be exact) to have it texted to you instantly. Your manager will think that you’re a magician, and the sudden spike in sales will get you and your new skills noticed by the top brass – all because you taught yourself the basics of how to code and implement a simple API.
If using a real world example doesn’t inspire you to learn basic coding concepts, maybe the fact that you will get paid more will persuade you. According to recent U.S. job market analysis, roughly half of the jobs in the top income quartile – defined as those paying $57,000 or more per year – are jobs that require at least some computer coding knowledge or skill.
While you don’t need to attend a computer science program or a coding bootcamp, you should make a concerted effort to learn coding principles and basic automation tasks. If you’re in sales, learn how to automate some tasks using SalesForce. A simple search on YouTube and Google will allow you to find at least a few ways that you could automate your workflow right now.
Bridgewater Associates founder, Ray Dalio, widely considered our generation’s most successful hedge fund manager, has been using algorithms for decades to run his fund. In a recent interview about his new bestselling book, Principles: Life and Work, he said, “Everybody has to learn to code. It’s like not knowing how to read and write in the new age. By in large, the world is going to largely consist of people who can take language and put it into code, which then allows the computer to operate like a brain or people who are going to be displaced by that.”
When the robots get here, make sure you can read and write!
Jeff Winkler is the Founder and CEO of Origin Code Academy, a 12-week coding bootcamp based in San Diego that’s dedicated to job placement.