Will Slackbot take your job?

Automated tool in Slack messaging app will become more powerful, co-founder says

Slack logo

Is Slackbot the future of work automation? The creators of the Slack messaging tool think so.

Slack is a messaging tool designed to make it easier to organise their work with colleagues. It's already used by more than a million people. Slackbots, meanwhile, are automated, programmable agents that can act as smart assistants.

In an interview withthe Guardian, Slack co-founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield said the app and its bots will become more powerful."Slackbot is nothing: we're right at the beginning of this," he told the newspaper. "Over the next several decades, new applications of computing technology in people's lives will increase productivity as dramatically as computers did in the 1960s and 70s."

Does that mean our jobs are at risk? Butterfield said "it will be about making us more efficient rather than taking our jobs."

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Reports have suggested as many as a third of jobs are at risk of automation, particularly those that feature repetitive work, including clerical and support jobs.

Butterfield doesn't see robots - digital or physical - taking most of our work. "I am sceptical about machine intelligence's ability to replace what humans do," he told the Guardian.He did point to automated phone systems getting better at replacing call centres as voice recognition and speech-to-text improves, but believes most automation will be for "simple things".

That could include tracking work schedules and sorting email - though he disputes claims Slack will kill off email, though it could cut its use inside companies. "Email is the lowest common denominator of communication, and we'll continue to have it for decades," he said. "But many teams who use Slack either reduce or eliminate their internal use of email."

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