It's hardly surprising that the 'rise of the machines' in the workplace is such a popular topic. The imminent destruction of jobs, with the heavy sci-fi treatment makes excellent copy.
None of this is new. I remember well the early 80s when the earliest concept of networked home working led many to proclaim the end of jobs as we knew them. The greatest challenge would be to occupy our free time - assuming we survived the third-world war.
But here's the thing. People like work. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but they do. Not all the time, and not everywhere. But they do.
And that's why humanity will fight to the death to hang on to work. Ok, I exaggerate slightly, but if you want that job, if you enjoy the company of your fellow workers or if you simply enjoy getting stuff done, then you need to follow this simple guide.
Be more human. I don't care how many articles I read about Watson or Deep Thought, or how one of them beat the world's greatest Ludo player or whatever at his own game. The fact is, human beings outperform and continue to outperform HAL and the rest of them.
The secret is focus on what makes us different. Our so-called soft skills. The very things that machines find hard. Communication. Empathy. Context. That thing in your skull, your brain. Depending on how you choose to measure, it's 3.8 billion years in the making (origins of life); or 150,000 years (the first modern humans). Either way, it's a thing of wonder. Start using it now, stay in a job and let Watson and the rest play chess. Your move.
Automated systems are usually very bad at recognizing context. For example, the original Google car found it hard to compute the context within which it was operating. So, a physical extension of the computing/sensing system — a laser range finder — was added. This problem of extending the automatic reasoning of AI systems to understand the context of their decisions is highly complex, and creative innovation, like the one at Google, is usually needed to push the effort forward. Likewise, understanding the context, business model, competition, and leadership of a client or an employer makes your understanding of content more useful.