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Your Personality Could Keep Robots From Stealing Your Job



Worried about robots stealing your job? Then you might want to work on your personality and play a few more rounds of Trivial Pursuit.

I'm kidding: the times we're living through seem more akin to a game such as Cards Against Humanity, which I have yet to play but I've heard it's...interesting. Besides, you already have a great personality and there's no need for you to change. You're one in a billion!

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However, you might be interested in new research that finds your IQ -- when combined with a tendency toward extraversion and an early love of the arts and sciences -- could keep robots from eventually taking your job in particular. Humanities majors navigating the STEM age, rejoice. We're somebody now!


Researchers at the University of Houston relied on data gathered from 346,660 people (!) to conclude that those with higher levels of intelligence, maturity, extraversion, and a lingering interest in the arts and sciences tended to be found in "less-computerizable jobs" a decade or more later. Here's a pivotal paragraph from the press release:

The researchers found that every 15-point increase in IQ predicted a 7 percent drop in the probability of one's job being computerized, the equivalent of saving 10.19 million people from losing their future careers to computerization if it were extrapolated across the entire U.S. population. Similarly, an increase of one standard deviation in maturity or in scientific interests -- equal to an increase of 1 point on a 5-point scale, such as moving from being indifferent to scientific activities to liking them fairly well -- across the U.S. population would each be equivalent to 2.9 million people avoiding a job loss to computerization.

Miss(ed) Congeniality
The researchers go on to say that it's hard to change our IQs, but we human workers can always work on our personality instead. We can also pursue "unique" skills, such as...feel free to fill in the blank because I've got nothing. Our educational system, meanwhile, could train students in developing their "personality characteristics" to help them prepare for the jobs of the future.


Is this true? Could saving our jobs from automation really be as easy as doing well in 7th-grade honors science class and playing in the high school band? I'll gladly practice my clarinet again like Squidward and dust off my copy of Cosmos if it means I am still employable. Carl Sagan was my hero in seventh grade.

The bigger question, at least to me, is to what extent will employers of the future be willing to dismiss human labor in favor of automation? And what will it mean for humanity if the majority of humans are no longer in the workforce?

But by all means, let's watch Watson beat us on Jeopardy, pull ourselves away from the breaking news cycle to read a book, and look up from our phones to talk to each other. It can't hurt, right? It might also be the best way to beat the robots.

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