How to cope when robots take your job

Simon Kuper:

The robots are coming to demolish your career. “No office job is safe,” says Sebastian Thrun, an expert on artificial intelligence at Stanford University. Lots of lawyers, accountants, even surgeons will be automated away. Having spent my career watching the long, slow carnage of my own industry, I have some insight into how that will feel, and how to cope.

When I entered journalism in 1995, it was a pretty cushy business. People bought newspapers — not necessarily for the articles but often just to find out the weather forecast, the football results, the stock prices or the TV schedule. Consequently, even mediocrities and alcoholics could have long, well-paid journalistic careers. I remember crabby FT subeditors of the 1990s who owned not just houses in London but second homes in France. When I started out, deadlines were about 6pm, after which — since rolling-news websites hadn’t been invented yet — everyone went to the pub. Expenses were good too: I’m told that at the FT, into the early 1990s, you could fly business class as long as you said you were working on the plane. So people would buy a copy of The Economist at the airport.