It’s not Obamacare or the Obama Administration that is killing jobs. It’s not outsourcing jobs to countries like India and China that is killing jobs. Of course, worldwide, the Great Recession is responsible for high unemployment, but some of the unemployed will eventually return to jobs. The problem is we are steadfastly moving into a future where no job will be safe.
An Associated Press three-part series by Bernard Condon and Paul Wiseman show conclusively that fundamentally the real job killer is technology and automation. The authors found that as high as two-thirds of middle-class jobs lost during the Great Recession were actually lost to advancements in technology.
Not surprisingly, they found that those who perform repetitive tasks are most vulnerable to automation. Technology, however, is an evolutionary process that will eventually include higher skilled jobs and those “who thought they were protected by a college degree.” Advances in technology will threaten the jobs of doctors, lawyers, and other highly skilled professionals. Eventually, cooks will not cook food, cars and buses will drive themselves, railroad engineers will find themselves out of work, airline pilots will not fly aircraft, and ship captains will not pilot ships.
Even journalist and other writers may become professions of the past. Today, companies like Automated Insights and Narrative Science use robot writers to generate personalized automated content.
For example, Barron’s writes that last year Automated Insights began working with Yahoo’s Fantasy Football group to provide the group with weekly game previews and recaps personalized for every player.
And scientists are in the early stages of programming robots to think. Scientists at the Tokyo Institute of Technology have developed a robot that learns, thinks, and acts by itself, even an artificial brain that can use the internet to learn new things.
But the big question is where will this lead? Four short-term outcomes are for sure: jobs will continue to decline, productivity will increase, profits will soar, and inequality will become greater in a world where fewer and fewer people will enjoy technology’s benefits.
We need to prepare now for a world where people at the bottom will not have the money to buy what the people at the top are selling. We need to prepare for a world where money will become less and less instrumental in the distribution of resources, and a world in which Smithian and Keynesian economic theories will be relics of the past.
According to The Venus Project, “Our present, outmoded political and economic systems are unable to apply the real benefits of today’s innovative technology to achieve the greatest good for all people, and to overcome the inequities imposed upon so many. Our technology is racing forward yet our social designs have remained relatively static. In other words cultural change has not kept pace with technological change.”
Right now, today, we have the resources to produce goods and services in abundance for everyone, but we need to transition from a monetary system to a resource based economic system to take full advantage of those resources. The sooner people wrap their heads around that fact, the better off the world will be.
(Part 1) Bernard Condon and Paul Wiseman, Recession, tech kill middle-class jobs, Yahoo! News
(Part 2) Bernard Condon and Paul Wiseman, Can smart machines do your job?, Yahoo! Finance
(Part 3) Bernard Condon and Paul Wiseman, Will smart machines create a world without work?, Yahoo! Finance