Identify gaps to capitalise on automation

While automation may take over many jobs, it may not fully replicate the different human intelligences ("Half of paid work can be automated: McKinsey report"; Jan 16).

Such intelligences include moral intelligence, creative and innovative intelligence, entrepreneurial intelligence, as well as interpersonal intelligence.

In addition, automation may not be able to perform all tasks, including those that involve abstract thinking, leadership, and aesthetic, emotive, social and cultural factors.

For example, while robots can take over some of the work, there is still a need for humans to produce and programme the robots.

There's also a need for creative and nuanced inputs from humans to further develop the robots to perform more complex tasks.

Therefore, people should study what automation cannot do, or cannot do as well as humans, and what automation can do better.

We should identify the gaps that cannot be adequately filled by automation, and capitalise on these niches by adding value in order to develop more sustainable jobs and outcomes for us.

We need to be mindful that for every operation that is being automated, new jobs and opportunities are also created that may be more meaningful and rewarding.

As we come to grips with the disruptive future, let us remember that if we travel on the same road, we will always reach the same destination. Therefore, we need to find a better road, or develop our own road, to reach a more desirable destination.

By pre-empting and capitalising on automation, we will not only be able to survive and succeed, but we can also take our nation to the next level of growth.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)