Preparing for an Automated Future
Our civilization has built a thriving economy in and around technological innovations. In the process, we created new opportunities. Meanwhile, manufacturing jobs were lost to robots but we diversified and used innovations to create new types of jobs. We've adapted, and many of us even thrived.
Technology however, is like a river morphing into a fast pace whitewater rapid. What started as a slow ride with the industrial revolution now feels more akin to a class 6 kayak obstacle course. Whether we want it or not, we are in this boat with limited control over what will happen next and it might turn out to be a ride filled with unintended results.
What we don't realize is that computers and apps are doubling in overall capabilities every 18 months. What seemed like science fiction a few years back is now part of our everyday lives. Digital assistants, drones and self-driving cars are just the beginning. According to Governments around the world the next 10 years will be marked by unbridled automation. In this phase, they predict that up to 50% of the entire US workforce is at risk of losing their jobs. The U.N. anticipates that this number will be closer to 75% in developing countries.
Jobs like taxi and truck drivers are expected to be partly replaced by autonomous vehicles. Planes will fly without pilots. Self-serve grocery stores and delivery services will refill our pantry, iPad bars and automated fast-food chains will feed the masses. Financial jobs such as investment advisors will become obsolete. In fact, there is not one area of the economy that is not under scrutiny for automation. Our jobs are collectively at risk except for the ones relating to science, engineering and design.
The reasons this phenomena is happening can be traced to our collective desire to improve profits. We are collectively investing in automation to create wealth. What we don't fully realize however is that we are eliminating ourselves out of the workforce picture in the process.
Unfortunately for us humans, computers have become smart enough to do our jobs. Humans need to sleep, eat and socialize to thrive. We command high salaries. We get old, sick and need vacations to recover. We have to raise children and take care of aging family members. Computers on the other hand can work 24 hours a day, they are never hungry and never need to take a vacation. The benefits they provide are too good to be ignored and that makes us all susceptible to losing our jobs to automation.
By automating products and services on a massive scale, companies are positioning themselves to change the job market forever. In the next decade, you can expect that most businesses will push the limits of automation to realize their profit goals.
Now, our survival instinct has always saved us from perilous situations. We are here today because of it and there is no reason for this to change. In fact, our survival instinct is most likely the key to our success in an automated world.
In the battle for the survival of our way of life, experts are unanimous at advising that we need to start using the very technologies we have created to help us thrive in the automation age. For this transition to happen smoothly, they recommend we act swiftly and without delay. They advise for a better education system, appropriate laws adapted to this new reality, compensation fall backs to help workers in transition and a plan of action to provide alternate ways to make a living. To solve a problem as big as this one, we will need to work together and give ourselves the tools we will need to enter the age of automation.