Is online income a viable solution to automation in the workplace?
While we may not need to fear time-travelling killer robots who look like Austrian-born Governors, and we may not have to worry about AI wiping out the human race, there is one undeniable truth:
Automation is going to bring about an end to life as we know it.
Ok, that sounded pretty dramatic. I’ll explain.
Walmart recently made headlines with the announcement that some of their stores will begin experimenting with automation.
They’ll be using specially designed robots to fulfil basic collection jobs in and around their stores.
They’ve already been using software called Bossa Nova to scan their shelves and tell workers what’s missing, but they’re planning to step it up a gear.
New robots tailor-made for working with stock will now be selecting items a customer has pre-ordered, taking it to the necessary location, and moving on to the next job… 10 times faster than a human could…
What does this mean for the future?
The benefits for the company are immediately obvious, and the downsides for the employee even more so.
Robots don’t need breaks. They don’t need basic needs catered to, like toilet facilities or health and safety risk assessments.
Perhaps crucially: they don’t need to be paid.
Many supermarkets spend a lot of money on maintaining staff, particularly at peak times like Christmas or over the Summer. Temporary workers rely on the income they earn working at supermarkets fulfilling exactly the kind of duties that these robots are looking to take over.
Many stores already operate a form of ‘self service’ checkout, removing the need for staff-manned tills. Now Walmart intend to trial giving greater responsibilities to robots. It’s easy to understand why it has people nervous.
They’re losing the war with internet giants like Amazon and Ebay, and their answer is to cut costs where they deem necessary.
As with all wars, the casualties are on the front lines – it’s the ground-floor workers who’re going to be hit the hardest.
Well, that’s all very doom and gloom… what can I do to keep myself safe?
It’s perhaps best summed up by a commenter who says ‘if your job can be automated, it’s best to assume it will be’.
Luckily, there is a very real alternative to working in environments subject to heavy automation.
To the best of our knowledge, there isn’t yet a robot that can teach you how to do new things. We teach them, and they do – when they start teaching us then we’ll be in trouble, but as of right now teaching online is likely your safest bulwark against automation.
Teaching online, particularly teaching English, is one of the few professions experiencing something of a boom – and it shows no signs of stopping.
Top TESL/TEFL companies report exponential growth, with many teachers holding down profitable positions overseas or at home.
Many companies don’t even insist upon formal qualifications.
If you can speak English and you have the means of accessing the internet, then you’ve got what it takes to teach English online.
It can be difficult to know where to start…
Well yeah, that’s true – it’s a big step, but in the face of automation-induced redundancy I’d wager it’s riskier to not take the risk.
Luckily, we here at DigiNo know a little something about taking those initial first steps into teaching online, and everything you need is available to you right here, free of charge.
The first thing you’re going to need to do is find the perfect teaching job for you. Easier said than done? No, not at all. As easily done as said. I don’t think that’s an expression…
Check out our guide on finding the perfect teaching position for you, and take your first steps into a new world guaranteed to be robot-free.
Once you’ve found your perfect online teaching position, there are a few boxes you’re going to need to tick before you can reach your maximum potential.
Which would you say are the most important?
If I had to break it down to a ‘top three’, I guess it would have to be:
1. A good computer
Having a decent computer cannot be understated when discussing teaching online.
If your class has to sit and watch a grainy video where each individual pixel can be counted on one hand, it’s not going to inspire confidence.
You don’t need to go ‘top of the line’ by any means, but keep in mind the expression ‘you get what you pay for’.
If you need a little extra help with making sure you’re packing the right gear, check out our choice for best computers for teachers.
2. A good internet connection
Your internet connection speed is basically the be-all-and-end-all of being an online teacher.
So do yourself a favour, and find out here if you pass the basic requirements for teaching english online:
3. Webcam software
DigiNo is a long-term advocate of ManyCam.
It’s free of charge, and using it will ensure you sustain and smooth and steady connection throughout the duration of your career as an online teacher.
We’ve spilled a lot of virtual ink discussing the pros and cons of ManyCam here at DigiNo, but when it comes to free online webcam software it’s not a tough competition – there’s a standout winner.
For help on getting started with ManyCam, take a look at our beginners guide:
Use the webcam software to bring your classes to life with digital effects.
Click below for the beginner's guide…
One of the great things about ManyCam is how it never sits still and stagnates too long. Bug reports are few and far between due to the overall professionalism of the program; but new installments are quick to jump on any reported errors, as well as providing new and useful advancements.
For a deep dive into recent changes made to ManyCam, check out our article to get an idea of what you can expect to be met with once you’re giving it a go:
So, we don’t have to take the fight to the machines?
Thankfully no, we don’t. It’s probably not a war we’d win, given it’s one we’re already losing.
But our job isn’t to fight, we’ll leave that to the John Connor-types. Guys and girls like you and me? We’ve just got to survive.