Skip to main content

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!


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.


Popular posts from this blog

Seven tips for dealing with a jealous coworker

Look at you, doing so well at work! We're so happy for you. Well, most of us are happy for you and refuse to spend the entire work day talking behind your back. Let's talk about how to handle our jealous co-workers!Like every other professional, you've no doubt experienced your share of failures and successes. Lately, however, things seem to be going your way at work. And how! Perhaps you've managed to ace an important project this quarter, been instrumental in landing a huge client, earned some well-deserved rewards for this and that, or -- egads! -- been given a slight promotion or additional work responsibilities (e.g., the work responsibilities you actually want).You're quietly chuffed, but somehow your co-workers seem none too pleased with this rapid turn of events. Oh no, what should you do now?It's a workplace tale older than the disjointed last season of Mad Men. The playing field in the department was even, cozy and overall very friendly -- until so-an…

Employees Blame Technology For Slowing Them Down At Work

Do you feel like you're always working, but never getting very much done? If so, you're not alone. Too much technology, and too much red tape, keep slowing us down at work. But technology, and more of it, is supposed to make our lives easier! Too much technology, however, does not compute for employees. A new SAP/Knowledge@Wharton survey of almost 700 corporate employees finds a full 60% of respondents blame technology "for inhibiting their ability to meet strategic goals." Gee, anyone who has ever used the self-checkout line at the grocery store can tell you that. However, 40% surveyed said that looking for ways to simplify the technology has been "a low priority" for their company. Too much paperwork is an on-going problem for the workplace, too. A new ServiceNow survey of nearly 1,000 managers finds that 90% are doing too much administrative work, no matter the size of the company. This paperwork includes filling out forms, writing status updates, …

Is Your Co-worker Always Late For Work?

You've started the workday, but where is your co-worker? Oh, she's running late again, just like yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that. Let's get an early start on solving her tardiness problem, shall we? Working with someone who is consistently late is one of the most annoying aspects of office life, and also one of the most common, unfortunately. It's a universal theme of the workplace that everyone will get to work on time (give or take a few minutes...) except for the employee who is egregiously late nearly every day. And the excuses can get pretty amazing. Employees became more punctual as the Great Recession lingered, at least according to surveys. Everyone, that is, except for your able-bodied but habitually-tardy co-worker. It's bad enough dealing with tardiness when you're a manager, but it can be even more frustrating when you're a rank-and-file peer without any magical "shape up or ship out" managerial powers. So you…