I watched a video that, I think, was meant to scare me but instead it confused me. Not its message but its lack of solutions. Here’s the video.
But Eric I don’t want to watch the 15 minute video
Fair enough. Here’s a quick explanation on what you’ll see. The human world is on the precipice of a revolution the likes we’ve never seen. Robots and robotics are at a level that they’re either affordable enough or close to affordable enough, to replace 25% of the workforce.
They talk about four tiers of work and how they can be replaced with robots or machinery of somesort. The biggest being transportation. Self-driving cars are already better at driving then all but the best human drivers. Then there’s retail which has had things like automatic checkouts and online shopping for years.
They go on to talk about computer programs, which they call bots in order to be thematic, which can effectively fill in reports and replace most paper pushers.
They then talk about Watson, a self-teaching computer, that is attempting to create the best possible doctor replacement program.
The last is a vague attempt to tell us that creativity isn’t solely a human trait and we are working on robots that can do the same things we can.
The moral seems to be that change is inevitable and that we are completely unprepared for the robots taking our jobs.
It’s important to know that all this technology exists and it’s not science fiction, or speculation.
The first reaction I had to this was, “OH DEITY! OH DEITY! We’re all going to die.” Totally reasonable right? Well not really. All this technology exists and is getting cheaper and easier to use and may replace all the jobs mentioned. That’s what it is, by the way: Technology, not bots nor robots etc. Your vending machine is a machine, not a robot.
The Oxford English Dictionary says a robot is “A central European system of serfdom, by which a tenant’s rent was paid in forced labour or service”… Oops wrong one. It says a robot is: “An intelligent artificial being typically made of metal and resembling in some way a human or other animal”.
So no, robots are not rising or trying to destroy us. Yet!?
But my Job
The technology may exist but there are two things you need to remember about them “taking” your jobs.
The first is simply fear. People are slow to adopt new technology. It takes time. Think about electric cars, they are completely usable and not to much more expensive but it’s taking a long time for people to adopt them. Same will happen with self-driving cars, unfortunately. As a person without a license, I’d love a self-driving car. As for the rest of the technology, it will take longer to get rid of retail employees only because most people prefer to buy from a person. Especially large or vanity items.
The second is stupidity. Machines are only as smart as their programing. There are some self-programing machines out there but they’re expensive and difficult to make. Anyone who’s tried to use speech-to-text software, or tried to use website autobuilding software knows that it’s not as simple as it seems.
Between fear and stupidity, it’ll be a while before we see robots replacing most jobs.
However, if you’re a Pay Phone repair man, you might look into another vocation.
What about when it does happen
Some jobs will disappear. That’s natural, I haven’t seen a town crier in a while.
The video is right, we’re not ready and I don’t think we should be. Technology changes quickly, and occasionally we adopt technology faster than normal, like cell phones. Trying to guess what the next big boom will be and where it’ll come from is fun but not worth serious effort.
It will happen, jobs will be automated, and people will lose their jobs. I think the first and hardest hit will be transportation probably in the next 25 years. But that industry is also going to need to change anyways due to Climate Change and evolving technology.
If it happens as quickly as the video (fear mongers) suggests, it would have devastating consequences on the world economy. If a quarter of the developed world’s population lost their jobs, the economy would screech to a standstill and that technology would become too expensive to upkeep and after a hard couple of horrible decades we’d find a balance. (yay uplifting!)
Ok, but what can I do?
Enjoy your job while you have it. Unless you want to become one of those survivalist nuts that have a bomb shelter in the woods with years of supplies etc, there’s no way for you to tell what will go first.
I’d assume the safest jobs would be in hard sciences, engineering, or leisure. They’ll be the last ones fully replaced. If you’re super terrified become a Physicist, Engineer, or Party Planner. Could be an interesting unified field theory.
Seriously, though. If you can think of a good way to help 45% of the population losing their jobs, tell someone. No, tell everyone!
Do you have a plan for when technology makes your job obsolete?
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