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another geologist noted: “However, all we need to do is to adapt the training or education” to the needs of “other, newly emerging and exciting fields in the geosciences.”

On the positive side, the BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 14, 16, and 10 percent growth in jobs over the next decade in the previous- ly-mentioned specialties of geological technician, petroleum technician, and hydrologist respectively (as against average expected growth of 5 to 9 per- cent in the typical profession). Less positively, together, these automation and job growth numbers seem to indi- cate that we’ll see large numbers of geoscientists hired in coming years—just in time for them all to be automated! However, my view is that these num- bers hint at forthcoming changes in the roles of geologists and geoscientists. The geologist of yesteryear may well be automated, leaving tomorrow’s geologist employed; indeed, the role of geologist has changed over the ages: in Hutton’s time, for example, nobody cared about groundwater remediation!

In my own optimistic view of things, automation could farm out the routine, mun- dane, and repetitive to the robots, freeing humans to focus on the more “fun” work. In fact, when I told my manag- er about my work on this arti- cle, she slyly asked whether I was going to mention my own attempts to automate myself, as I have been writing scripts to streamline certain repeti- tive, labor-intensive processes (with one large exception— reviewing data for errors and inconsistences). My script takes care of the monotonous task of one part of manually running certain routine tasks and models, leaving the scien- tists room to interpret results.

In closing, one respondent summa- rized the automation debate as follows: “Over the long term (multiple decades), ideally automation would free up practic- ing geologists to do more creative work more of the time; but the devil is in the details (and in what gets the emphasis), and if change is driven purely by com-

mercial and/or administrative forces then the implementation of automation conceivably could lead to a new, unwel- come yoke around the neck of working professionals. Like all technology, auto- mation itself is neither good nor bad; how it becomes applied in practice is the issue.” Indeed, the future is yet to be written, and our decisions will determine whether automation raises all boats or merely sinks a few. Little wonder, then, why at least one older colleague of mine calls my hopeful outlook the naivety of youth. However, one thing is certain: change is coming.

Acknowledgements: I would like to thank Jack Billings, M.Sc. Universität Kassel, BA University of Rochester for providing helpful feedback on the initial draft of this column.


Acemoglu, D. & Restrepo, P., 2017. Robots and Jobs: Evidence from U.S. Labor Markets (NBER Working Paper No. 23285). files/12763

Autor, D. H.,2015. Why are there still so many jobs? The history and future of workplace automation. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 29(3), 3-30.

Bughin, J., Manyika, J., & Woetzel, J., 2017. A Future That Works: Automation, Employment, and Productivity. McKinsey Global Institute. https:// tal-disruption/harnessing-automation- for-a-future-that-works

Case, A. & Deaton, A., 2017. Mortality and morbidity in the 21st century. Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Spring 2017. Brookings Institute. https:// tality-and-morbidity-in-the-21st-centu- ry.

Frey, C. B., & Osborne, M. A., 2017. The future of employment: how sus- ceptible are jobs to computerisation?. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 114, 254-280. http://dx.doi. org/10.1016/j.techfore.2016.08.019. Based on the original 2013 report avail- able at uk/downloads/academic/The_Future_ of_Employment.pdf.

Manyika, J., Lund, S., Chui, M., Bughin, J., Woetzel, J., Batra, P., ... & Sanghvi, S., 2017. Jobs lost, jobs gained: Workforce transitions in a time of automation. McKinsey Global

Need we say more? Image’s source: USGS

Jul.Aug.Sep 2018 • TPG 47

Institute. global-themes/future-of-organizations- and-work/what-the-future-of-work-will- mean-for-jobs-skills-and-wages

Why a career in Geology?

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