Every week I read in some newspaper or magazine that automation is going to do us all out of a job. This week's contender is the Guardian, which has become so pessimistic in recent years it should come with a health warning and free dose of Valium cello-taped to the cover.
Anyhow, they have a 'piece' on their site that boldly proclaims that by 2030, 850,000 public sector jobs could be replaced by automation. This cuts across all sectors, from health and care to administrators (who are particularly hard hit!), to even include police officers (here comes Robocop) and teachers and social workers.
My own opinion is that it won't be quite so dire as this. In my experience of work, the limited automation I use more often causes long delays and big upsets when anything goes wrong with it. (When a server has been down in the Cloud, you find you can't access your website and have to spend a half hour trying to find someone to get in touch with to correct the error. Or even in a supermarket on the self check outs - how many times do these things go awry? It's driven me to the point of madness and back again).
But could my job be automated? Could we see hand-sized robotic crawler drones taking advantage of Van der Waals Radiation to creep up walls in nice steady lines and leave a trail of Farrow and Ball behind them? Some strange, metallic gecko that excretes a trail of perfect light grey or a warm autumnal orange? But what if it comes to a kink in the plaster, or an obstructive beam? What if it climbs too high and the pressure from the pump becomes too great to provide it with a steady stream of paint?
It reminds me of that famous story about one of those automatic vacuum cleaners that pops out every morning and hoovers the floor for you when you are sleeping. A family brought a new kitten home with them and locked it in the kitchen for the first night. Needless to say, no one told the Terminator, and when the family came down on the Sunday morning they were greeted with the appalling sight of kitten poo diligently spread all over the lino by the hard working automated vacuum. Oh dear!
Personally, I don't see too much threat from automation in a job that takes place in such a variety of premises and where each one has its own challenges. Painting and decorating, as the saying goes, may be simple, but it isn't easy!
Still, with Britain's got Talent in Worcester, then I might have a back up plan if the T1000 ever comes to grab my brush!