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Skilled service providers are less vulnerable to automation, says Thumbtack’s economist

The company, which connects people with service professionals, doesn't expect much impact from the robot revolution.

Thumbtack headquarters in San Francisco
Michelle Berg

Work is becoming increasingly automated thanks to the advancement of technology like machine learning and artificial intelligence, potentially to the detriment of laborers.

But not all service providers are being immediately affected by the robot revolution, says Thumbtack’s economist Lucas Puente. Thumbtack, which connects service providers with customers, says the company’s data shows people who list their services on Thumbtack have seen little negative impact.

"It’s difficult to replace humans with machines and our data bears that out," Puente said at this year’s Code Enterprise conference in San Francisco. "We’re not seeing much change on our marketplace. That’s obviously less true on other marketplaces, but we’re not being affected by automation and we don’t expect to be."

Puente says it’s easier to automate something like driving, but not other high-level human skills.

"Skills are very important," he said. "You can’t just be a commodity. It’s coming into their house and providing a high level of customer service and a high level of skill. To do that you have to have specialized training and a specialized skill set."

"The future is bright for skilled professionals," he continued. "Hopefully with Thumbtack we can use the power of technology to supercharge these small businesses not to affect them negatively."

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