New York Times: High-Skilled White-Collar Work? Machines Can Do That, Too

Digital systems are good in pattern recognition and to extrapolate probabilities and trends for the immediate future. This capability is very helpful in the retail industry, where buyers are trying to predict on what might sell in the near-future. Automated systems can take data from previous sales and combine them with customer profiles to predict future sales. In fashion retail there is a limited combination of patterns, materials and shapes possible and a computer can run through all possibilities much faster than a human can. Where an human buyer will have to trust his experience and intuition, a computer calculates probabilities taking into account a lot of data.

In the end the final decision will still be made by a human. The research and all the work that needs to be done to come to a buying decision will be taken over by computers. Where fashion retail companies use to have a department filled with human buyers looking for new fashion trends, this work can now be done by one person.

At the same time, as this New York Times article shows, a new role for humans in the buying process is starting to emerge; the role of stylist. The stylist is the intermediator between the customer looking for new clothes and the digital systems stocking the shops and warehouses. The stylist translates what the customer might been looking for into concepts that the digital system can digest.

High-Skilled White-Collar Work? Machines Can Do That, Too

One of the best-selling T-shirts for the Indian e-commerce site Myntra is an olive, blue and yellow colorblocked design. It was conceived not by a human but by a computer algorithm – or rather two algorithms. The first algorithm generated random images that it tried to pass off as clothing.

Article Information

Related articles