The code war, war against talents?

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Akindele Afolabi

“Things looked bleak for the Angels when they trailed by two runs in the ninth inning, but Los Angeles recovered thanks to a key single from Vladimir Guerrero to pull out a 7-6 victory over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Sunday.

Guerrero drove in two Angels runners. He went 2-4 at the plate. ‘When it comes down to honouring Nick Adenhart, and what happened in April in Anaheim, yes, it probably was the biggest hit [of my career],’ Guerrero said. ‘Because I’m dedicating that to a former teammate, a guy that passed away’

Guerrero has been good at the plate all season, especially in day games. During day games Guerrero has a .794 OPS [on-base plus slugging]. He has hit five home runs and driven in 13 runners in 26 games in day games”

The caption above was the beginning of an article written by a sportswriter around a baseball game played in October 2009. It is no doubt a well written article and perhaps shows the grammatical adeptness of the writer.

What does this have to do with the title – the code war? Well, just one thing, the sportswriter was a computer code.

We may probably not have imagined that the work of a writer could be taken over by a computer code but as Alec Ross, the author of ‘the industries of the future’ wrote “if you can imagine an advance, somebody is already working on how to develop and commercialise it”. The software that wrote the piece was created by students and researchers at Northwestern University and the idea has metamorphosed into a new company called Narrative Science Inc. The software, now known as Quill, is being used by many top media organisations including Forbes to generate contents in various topics. Is someone’s job not at risk especially when writing skills is a major challenge most organisations battle with?

In 1997, the term ‘war for talent’ was introduced into the business lexicon by Mckinsey to indicate the competition among organisations in attracting talents. Is it not time we introduced a more appropriate buzzword in this digital age, if not now but in the near future – ‘war against talent’? Many who had thought knowledge workers are immune to job loss as a result of technological advancement should begin to have a rethink in the face of the capabilities of artificial intelligence, robotics, predictive analytics and data.

We cannot completely ignore the threats posed to our jobs by the codes behind most software that are simplifying how we work. We may not accept this though, but the truth remains that all jobs are prone to disruption, if not totally, but to a large extent.

Welcome to the future of work, welcome to the era of Code War, welcome to a time to rethink career.

‘Quote on baseball game was copied from ‘Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford’

Akindele Afolabi is a Professional Human Resource Leader , Career Counsellor & Capability Trainer

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