There is no stopping it, the robots are coming! As we sit on the precipice of a revolution of cyber-physical systems evaluating the host of disruptive technologies that are poised to wreak havoc on middle-income jobs. It’s time to ask yourself how you will prepare for the coming age of technological unemployment.
“There is a prevailing opinion that we are in an era of technological unemployment – That technology is increasingly making skilled workers obsolete.”(MacCarthy, 2014)
In the recent book, The Second Machine Age by Brynjolfsson and McAfee (2016) relying on their empirical study they conclude three things. First, we are living in a time of unparalleled proliferation of digital technology. Second, this digital proliferation will bring about massive benefits to humanity. Third, is that a “rapid and accelerating digitization will likely bring economic disruption,” leaving behind numerous people. They are not the only people predicting a high level of job loss due to automation. Martin Ford as early as 2009 argued that “as technology accelerates, machine automation may ultimately take over the economy creating significant job loss” and dramatically diminished incomes. It’s already begun; the US lost over five and a half million manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2010. Researchers at Ball State University showed that 85% of those losses are actually traceable to automation and other technological change, not international trade.
Look at the current tech landscape and where the biggest advances are being made. Everyday there a breakthroughs in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Automation, and with Moore’s law to guide us in terms of expectations for the future, CPU power will double every 18 to 24 months. We truly stand upon a precipice of change that will alter the way work and live forever.
Up to now job losses have been relegated to those largely repetitive highly rule based tasks. With the advent of algorithms for big data manipulation and advances in pattern recognition automation will soon be able to handle roles that heretofore required the cognitive power of human beings. These tasks also happen to be those associated with higher paying jobs of the middle class. As we enter the age of machines running calculation at 300 quadrillion FLOPS it’s time to consider the paradigm shift we are living through and the inevitable disruption to follow.
What will you do when the Robots come for you?
Source: Michael A. Peters, Technological unemployment: Educating for the fourth industrial revolution