Software and Employment



Recently there has been a lot of attention on the anticipated negative impact of robotics on employment.  In fact, on January 16 of this year, I wrote a post about this entitled “Automation Nation.”  CBS News recently did a nice segment which they also called Automation Nation.  Do you think I should sue?

   But although everyone is talking about robotics and automation, there has been much less focus on the effect of software on employment.  I became interested in this topic when I learned of the recent $3.7 billion acquisition of App Dynamics by Cisco.  App Dynamics is a software company that monitors the performance of their client’s software in the cloud.  So you may be asking yourself, as I did, why is a hardware manufacturer like Cisco willing to shell out $3.7 bn for a software company?  The answer seems to be that, after years of lackluster performance, software is once again poised for rapid growth.

  Let’s consider a few examples of how software is evolving, and how jobs could be impacted:

  • A Microsoft artificial intelligence program called DeepCoder is able to write code for software, something currently only performed by human software engineers.
  • Call centers are increasingly adopting Natural language Processing and Chatbots to address customer needs.  This has the potential to lead to greater customer satisfaction and lower call center employment.
  • Deloitte predicts that artificial intelligence and machine learning could contribute to the elimination of 39% of legal positions (114,000).
  • As discussed above, App Dynamics software monitors the performance of other software.  Their CEO, David Wadhwani, has stated that there is no longer any need for engineers to monitor and analyze software performance.

I could go on, but you get the idea.  Tremendous advances are being made in software, and this is already having an impact on employment.  Going forward, we’ll all have to work hard to stay current in this new world.

Doug Young Ph.D.

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