Worried machines will take your job one day? Vala Afshar tweets some food for thought
The automation threat to jobs is not a new one.
“Over the last few months, we have seen our technology products and platforms evolve and improve significantly. We have dramatically improved the speed of service resolution, such that now only 7.5 per cent of our orders need support,” the company had said in a statement.
While the automation threat to jobs is real, people often forget that automation is part and parcel of growth. Over the centuries, every industry has seen jobs evolve (or disappear) as automation enters. Recently, Vala Afshar, chief digital evangelist – Salesforce, shared an example of how automation did away with the “knocker upper” job in the 1920s.
Before alarm clocks, people would be hired to wake you by knocking on your window at a certain time of day. https://t.co/Xl8I96fH7Y— Vala Afshar (@ValaAfshar) 1565977265000
What is a “Knocker Upper”?
As Afshar mentions, the “knocker upper” was a person who would knock on people’s windows at a pre-arranged time to wake them up. The trade, which spread throughout the 19th century and partially the 20th , was mainly prevalent in industrial areas where workers were required to work the early shift but could not afford their own watches. It was also used by dock workers who had to wake at odd hours.
To make sure that only the person who paid for their services who would be woken up, they used a long fishing-rod like stick with a knob at the end to tap on windows. Charles Dickens is said to have referenced one such ‘knocker upper’ in his novel 'Great Expectations'.
As alarm clocks became more affordable, the trade petered out but some reports suggest that it still existed in certain mill towns even up to the 1970s.
Is Automation the End?
Afshar may or may not have intended to draw a direct comparison between “knocker uppers” and automation fears today but one can’t help but notice the timeliness of his tweet.
Nearbuy CEO Ankur Warikoo was more direct in drawing a connection, asking a question that’s been on everyone’s minds.
I wonder what they did when their jobs got taken over by machines! #history https://t.co/Mx3meXcYir— Ankur Warikoo (@warikoo) 1568518569000
@ValaAfshar Yet another proof that digitisation is killing jobs.— Francesco Andreani (@andreanityce) 1566014674000