Reports suggest that by the year 2030, 800 million jobs will be lost to automation. Will yours be one of them?
We used to be afraid that robots would rise to power and make us their slaves. Now it looks like we have more realistic things to worry about.
How would our economy survive if there were no jobs left for us to perform? Would we be living in a relaxing world with no worries? Or would our entire society start to crumble?
We’ve seen jobs lost to automation before, but this time it’ll be different — because it won’t just be low-wage, low-skill jobs being replaced. Middle-income positions such as medical technicians, chefs, office workers, security guards, and inspectors could also go to the machines.
How do we make sure we don’t become obsolete? Imagine a world where we can send robots to do our most dangerous jobs. Where automation could eliminate the possibility of human error from high stakes situations. And where we could delegate our most tedious tasks to our artificial counterparts.
It’s not hard to see the potential benefits that would come along with a machine-based workforce; if robots took over our jobs, wouldn’t we just be left to enjoy all the fun parts of life?
Well as nice as that may sound, it’s not very realistic. For one thing, there are some jobs that robots will probably never be able to replace, but before we get into those let’s take a more realistic look at how things would be if a good portion of jobs didn’t exist anymore.
Picture this: you walk into work one morning and find that a robot has been brought on to complete all the repetitive aspects of your job, freeing you up to focus on the more rewarding ones. It seems pretty awesome at first, but it would probably lead to lower wages for your profession, seeing that robots are now doing all the hard work.
It would also create more competition in your field because, aided by automatic technology, more people would be able to do your job. As the costs of automation for these middle-class positions started to fall, employers would be inclined to stop employing humans altogether.
That would lead to some pretty significant problems. First off, with all these paid positions being eliminated, the government would start losing out on a ton of taxes.
And they’d need to scramble to find a way to prevent the middle class from completely disappearing. Big corporations who had the money to buy robots could use them to earn even more money, while everyone who had their jobs replaced by robots would be left to struggle in poverty.
But it doesn’t all have to be that bleak. As we said earlier, not every job could be replaced by automation. A lot of our basic human qualities are hard to code, so jobs that require social skills, creativity, nurturing, teaching, negotiating, or selling will probably always be safe.
And working together with machines doesn’t necessarily have to spell economic turmoil. We could implement taxes for companies that use robotic labor, make sure that definitively human capabilities are highly valued, and continuously update our education and training institutions to prepare people for jobs in this new era.
It isn’t going to be easy, but getting the most out of this robot-human relationship would definitely be worth it. We just have to make sure we don’t make them angry or else…
- “How Automation Will Affect You – The Experts’ View”. Gray, Richard. 2019. bbc.com. Accessed March 14 2019.
- “When Robots Take All The Work, What’ll Be Left For Us To Do?”. Wohlsen, Marcus, 2019. WIRED. Accessed March 14 2019.
- “Don’t Fear The Robots Taking Your Job, Fear The Monopolies Behind Them”. 2014. Motherboard. Accessed March 14 2019.
- “When Robots Do All The Work, How Will People Live? | Tom Watson”. Watson, Tom. 2016. The Guardian. Accessed March 14 2019.