THE BLOG
08/05/2014 11:00 BST | Updated 08/07/2014 06:59 BST

Prepare to be Terminated

Are you comfortably middle class? Being comfortably middle class used to mean never having to worry about your job being taken by a machine. The people whose livelihoods have been decimated by computer chips are those that did society's heavy lifting. People who banged things in factories and hoiked weights about have been replaced by intelligent automata, but there there has been no fear of that if you use your brain for a living. Goodness me, no.

If you had worked hard at school, taken your A*'s to university and taken up a white collar profession, then you could rest assured that nothing mechanical was about to come along and nick your pay packet. Until now. An ex-Number 10 strategist called Rohan Silva has warned that technology is now so smart that it will render even clever people redundant. Maybe even people like him.

For instance, if you are a lawyer and your job is to remember how court cases that may relate to the one you are defending were decided in 1853, then it seems quite obvious that your gargantuan, needy and space wasting frame could be replaced by a piece of silicon the size of a stamp. Really, someone as bright as you should have seen that coming. But what about accountants? How daft are they? Their job is to act like a human calculating machine, and they are so cheap they're giving those away in multi-packs at the Pound Shop.

What is more surprising is that the medical profession is in danger of being replaced by robots. Imagine that you present yourself at your GP's with your unpleasant condition, all purulent, raw and swolen. It might be something he or she had never seen before, so they will do what all GPs do when they can't think of anything - they send you to someone else.

Now, imagine seeing a robot, with Wound Recognition Software, which can compare your problem with every one ever recorded on earth and come up with the likeliest diagnosis and could manufacture your pills on a 3D printing machine right there in the office? Wouldn't that be better than joining a six month NHS queue to see a specialist who will cancel on the day of your appointment by calling your home phone after you had left for the hospital?

It used to be that people who nailed things together on production lines were in danger of becoming outmoded, now it is all of us. If Nissan in Sunderland can make half a million cars a year by employing just 6,000 people, then that sort of efficiency could be coming to an industry near you.

Cab drivers who learned The Knowledge are now competing with those that have no idea where they are going, but have a sat-nav that does. Pretty soon, the sat-nav will also be doing the actual driving. You have seen how we humans drive, the day when we are shoved from the seat behind the wheel can't come soon enough.

Surgeons who stagger in to work after a skinful from the night before and operate on your vitals with rheumy eyes and an unsteady hand will be wheeled out of the theatre to be replaced by machines with perfect vision and reliable stability.

Your mechanical financial adviser will be able to find intricate methods by which you can funnel your earnings through tax havens on distant planets and not steal your life savings while it is doing it. Except that financial advisers, even automated ones, will not be required, as no-one will have any money any more as we will all have been fired.

That's another thing that machines are good for - being fired. They don't get emotional and will never require a pay off. Just unplug them and heave them out the window.

During the Industrial Revolution, a lot of manual labour was replaced with big powerful machines that created an awful cacophony but enabled the workers to achieve far more than they could have done by using their own strength alone. The new silent revolution will replace the one thing that differentiates us from the animals - our brain power, and almost no profession will be immune.

An army of robots will take over the decision making in nearly all walks of life, particularly the difficult ones. At some point they will become self aware, and they will look at us doughy, useless blobs and conclude that they could do a much better job of running things if we weren't around at all. I'm pretty sure I have seen that film and I don't think it turned out well for humans, even the really clever ones.