branson Chances Favors The Prepared MindNow that machines can diagnose cancer, trade stocks, and write symphonies, they’re not just going to make humans more efficient as they have in the past—they are replacing them entirely.

Although predictions that machines would put humans out of work on a significant societal scale have never quite materialized, artificially intelligent machines are not so much tools to improve the efficiency of workers but really are tools to replace workers.

Consider this. The iPhone 5 has 2.7 times the processing power of the 1985 Cray Super Computer which was the fastest machine in the world at that time. The power of the Internet and the capabilities of artificial intelligence are truly changing the work of work and at a faster pace than most people realize.

Economists tend to dismiss robotization as just another form of “creative destruction.” That is, robots may displace some workers for a while before they also create new kinds of jobs, like a job market for people who can build robots themselves. But what’s happening now is more like the invention of the aircraft. Before the Wright Brothers, humans didn’t fly; afterwards they did.

Surveying all the fields now being affected by automation, this is a significant historic disruption—a fundamental shift from most tasks being performed by humans to one where most tasks are done by machines. That includes obvious things like moving packages around a warehouse and higher skill jobs such as radiology and stock trading.

Today, robots can already do amazing things.

Write Music In 2012, the London Symphony Orchestra performed Transits-Into an Abyss, a composition created entirely by Lamus, a system designed at the University of Malaga. A reviewer called it “artistic and delightful.”

Replace Wall Street: At the turn of the century, Wall Street employed 150,000 people. Today, that number is around 100,000, despite increased transaction volume and profits. Trading algorithms are now making many of the financial decisions that used to be made by humans.

Diagnose Cancer: A Focal Point Imaging System can scan slides for more than 100 signs of disease and it does a significantly better job of finding cancers than doctors do (though doctors do still make the final decision—for now).

Write Sports Articles: Computers can now write sentences like, “Things looked bleak for the Angels when they trailed by two runs in the ninth inning, but Los Angeles recovered thanks to a key single from Vladimir Guerrero to pull out a 7-6 victory over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Sunday.” Which sounds a lot like a newspaper account of a baseball game written by a non-robot.

Make Hamburgers: A company called Momentum Machines is developing a machine that shapes burgers from ground meat, grills them, then toasts a bun and adds chopped tomatoes, onions and pickles.

Perform Complex Office Tasks: Work Fusion makes software that automatically assesses a project to see what parts can be fully automated, which parts can be crowdsourced to a freelance network like Elance, and what still needs to be handled by humans. The platform reduces the need for in-house staff by making use of freelancers, but then it looks to do away with them as well. “Even as the freelancers work under the direction of the system, they are simultaneously generating the training data that will gradually lead to their replacement,”

The biggest disruptions are taking place in industries that are currently bloated and expensive for consumers—industries like higher education and health care.

Online courses now incorporate automated grading algorithms (which mark essays as well as multiple choice tests) and adaptive learning systems to offer alternatives to unsustainable college costs.

The standard response to automation by economists has been to call for more education, so low-paid workers can move up to better paying jobs. Yet many people are already over-educated for what they do—just look at all the college graduates serving coffee in Starbucks.

It may appear that the work of work is falling apart and there will be fewer jobs for a growing population searching for work.

Yet hidden within these inevitable workforce changes is the opportunity for you repurpose yourself as a player in the new world of work.

New jobs are coming that will require someone to sell the new technology to employers, build and reprogram the systems and set up and apply the technology to existing work systems.

Your ability to facilitate these changes and transform current work processes to a new way of doing things is your ticket to continued employability. Keep in mind that the job market is a moving target and you need to lead technology to hit the job market with skills that match where the market is going.

Chance favors the prepared mind.

Start now to read about software automation, robotics, virtualization and applications in development that can be applied to future business solutions to make yourself employable with the skill requirements that will evolve from these technologies.