I’m not advocating that being a robot is such a great thing mind you. At least in terms of what our current technology can provide, they are basically just simple machines that can perform fairly routine and menial tasks, such as assembling parts of cars at a manufacturing plant, or performing other simple mechanical functions. Unless you believe the future is going to be very much like that of the movie “I, Robot”, where robots actually develop emotions, it sounds like pretty drab stuff. Now, if someone would provide me with a robot that would clean my house, do the dishes and all the laundry on a daily basis, I would welcome him with open arms, even if it ultimately tries to kill me. But when you also take other machines, such as computers and all of our wildly popular mobile devices into account, it is clear that automation is the wave of the future. So here’s the appropriate question: what jobs are going to be left for humans?
Does the Future Really Look so Grim?
According to the Economist, who recently published their 2014 survey on the impact of technology, things aren’t working so grand for us down the road. They predict that by 2034, or just two decades from now, almost 50% of all jobs will be automated, which means that the machine will be performing them. Granted, it may be that you are as sceptical as I am, wondering how they can possibly come up with those type of predictions for events 20 years out. But they do provide a compelling argument. There has always been change in every civilization. You could start anywhere you want, from the Egyptians, to the Greeks and Romans and find innovations which changed their economies. Even the Industrial Revolution, which was highly disruptive, was good for workers. Hundreds of thousands of people found meaningful employment during that period and what we now refer to as the middle class was born. But today, change is accelerating. And what is accelerating most of all is technology.
So, You like Your New Smartphone?
Just think of all the new technologies that have been introduced in the last 20 to 30 years. In the world of music and audio, we started with simple phonographs which played hard plastic disc records. We then progressed to reel to reel tape recorders, big bulky things which provided a fairly high standard of fidelity. Next came the eight track player, then the cassette player and finally the iPod and other digital music devices. In computers, we started with big huge computing machines, progressed to desktop sized computers that were slow and inefficient and ultimately wound up with laptops. On mobile devices, we started with very simple cell phones, which could basically make calls and send text messages. When the first iPhone was introduced less than 10 years ago, the mobile smartphone revolution was on. Only five years ago, the iPad was introduced and the tablet revolution took off. Things are happening at an alarmingly fast pace.
What Will Be the Future Jobs?
There’s no doubt that in the area of technology, humans will still have to provide the creativity to dream of new devices and new applications. Manufacturing will still need factory workers, but probably fewer than today. There will still be jobs in retail and food industry, but even some of those may become automated. Anyone who owns a recruitment agency may find themselves specializing placing robots for certain assignments. In the meantime, they often need to have a payroll outsourcing solution keep their operating costs as reasonable as possible.
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