Work has always changed. We have had work revolutions from hunter-gatherer societies to agriculture, industrialization, and the information age. During the past few decades, information work has increased dramatically, and it continues to grow. Automation and algorithms* have already replaced some of the information work humans do, and this development will continue. And that is just great!
But what does this trend mean for engineers? Will engineers soon be on display in glass cases in museums, as the mammoths of tomorrow?
Automation is an engineer’s best friend
There aren’t too many of us who absolutely love laborious and time-consuming routine tasks like typing, copying, and sorting numbers on spreadsheets. This type of work should be automated whenever possible. We find it almost insulting that engineers’ brains are used to do work that automation could do. In fact, in many cases, routine tasks can be performed better, faster, and with higher quality when automated.
So, it is a great relief for engineers that they can get rid of “dummy” work and utilize advanced technologies to help and support their creative work.
Creativity and curiosity make a great engineer
Engineers at their best are curious and creative. They don’t need detailed rules, definitions, or instructions to get a job done, like a computer does. Actually, micromanaging kills creative problem-solving and innovation.
Allowing creativity to bloom brings way better results and makes it possible to create something new.
Skillful engineers excel when something is happening for the first time, and when everything is not going as expected or planned. When real brainwork is needed.
Creative problem-solvers are always needed
The type of brain work that a great engineer does will never disappear; on the contrary, the demand will increase.
Problems are renewable resources when aiming for better performance. When automation and algorithms are used and technology becomes increasingly complex, more complicated problems arise. This allows engineers to focus on what they do best: creative problem solving.
So, hooray for automation, algorithms, and engineers – we need all of you! Now, and for ever after.
*In this article, we view automation and algorithms as a broad concept: any technology that performs a job or task without human thinking, intelligence, or physical intervention. It can be a simple formula in Excel or a set of rules in software, neural networks, artificial intelligence, machine learning, quantum computing, intelligent robotics, etc.