At work there's a project that was originally pitched as an automated system we would build for a new client, and now the conversation has shifted towards automating away some data entry tasks for an existing client. If the project is successful I would guess that some or all of the people doing the data entry tasks would be out of a job. And if it's a resounding success I would guess that the powers that be would be eager to apply it in other areas and potentially put more people out of jobs.
This project is in the very early stages of gathering requirements and whatnot so it's not really clear what exactly we're building or what my role in building it would be. But it involves a technology that's new to us (natural language processing) and often times I end up playing some role in a project that involves learning something new, even if it's just in some small way.
So yeah, I know automation replacing low-skill work is nothing new and if these jobs can be automated away, they will be sooner or later, but this is the first time I've been confronted with the idea of using my skills to put people I don't know out of a job and it sticks in my craw. Normally I love automation and interacting with new (to me) tech even if it's nothing groundbreaking and I'm just doing the plumbing to connect system A to interface B, but in the past it's always been in the name of freeing up people from tedious tasks so that they can do more interesting and more important work, rather than "freeing" them of their paycheck. So I'm finding myself adding this to the small but compelling pile of frustrations I have with this job and weighing it against the also-small but also-compelling pile of things I love about it.
Anyway, if you've ever been in a position where you were asked to automate away someone else's job, how did that go? What did you do?
If you haven't, what do you think you would do?