“Alexa is Stealing Your Job” by Rhonda Scharf

Rhonda Scharf’s book about the dawning AI revolution Alexa is Stealing Your Job: The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Your Future breaks with similar works on the subject.. The only cautionary tale you’ll find in this book is Scharf’s stark insistence that those swept up in this wave, i.e. virtually anyone currently employed, has a clear choice to make – acclimate yourself or prepare to become unemployable and obsolete. She doesn’t sugarcoat things for readers. This doesn’t mean she isn’t cold or understanding about their plight; Scharf has empathy for their feelings on the matter, but she is ultimately someone who prefers to deal with the world as it is (or will be) rather than fanciful alternatives. Scharf, in the end, sees the transformations AI will bring as an opportunity rather than seeing it as a bright neon sign post on the way to oblivion.

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Scharf structures the book in a systematic leave no stone unturned fashion and handles an assortment of potentially complex issues with deft skill. She identifies the types of individuals who will still prosper and find work following the full introduction of AI into our modern life, discusses examples of past companies and communities who either failed to heed the signs of a changing world or else embraced them for a greater good, and discusses the developments leading us to this pivotal moment in history. Alexa is Stealing Your Job backs up its claims and arguments with a wealth of research rather than simply making statements and expecting Scharf’s CV to convince us she makes valid points.

Her extensive list of professions and percentage chance of AI rendering them obsolete in coming years will be an informative part of the book for many readers. She spares no one; The list is not her invention alone but culled from Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne’s Technological Forecasting and Social Change for those looking to do further research into the issue. The list consumes a great deal of the book’s length but it is an indisputably valuable addition to the text. Much of the book’s second half and conclusion examines various areas where AI will be used in coming years – e.g. making advertising and marketing more efficient for companies, among other ways.

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She illustrates this by pointing out how many magazine articles in the pages of publications such as Yahoo’s fantasy football report, Forbes, and Associated Press are composed by robots. The robots draw from data and write pieces that any unsuspecting traditional reader will assume are written by humans. AI will transform customer service, as well, by addressing consumer pain points (problems) in a more no frills and focused fashion than ever before. Her discussion of this is another insistence where she backs up her ideas with ample research. I think it is nothing short of impressive how Scharf manages to deconstruct such a monumental change in few pages while providing her readers with abundant secondary materials they can study to deepen their knowledge. Alexa is Stealing Your Job: The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Your Future stares the future in the face and never flinches.

Clay Burton