Automation & The Economy Of The Future

I worry about this issue all the time. What are the hundreds of millions of people in our society and world going to do when their jobs get automated? Truck/taxi drivers, food/hospitality workers, and so many more will be replaced in just the next 20 years. Even jobs like teachers, nurses, soldiers, manual laborers, and most web developers in the next 30-50. It’s happening more and more every single day. What can we do to help the people displaced by this shift in our economy, and more importantly, prepare future generations for jobs that don’t exist yet? It’s a tough issue.

I recommend watching this video on the subject for some more background:

Oliver concludes (and I definitely agree) that to succeed in the increasingly automated economy of the future, you must make sure that:

“…you can do a series of non-routine tasks that require social intelligence, complex critical thinking, and creative problem solving.”

John Oliver

As simple as that sounds, I think it’s more than most people are asked to do on a daily basis. How can we train people to think and work like this? To be flexible and successful during multiple career changes over the course of their 50+ year work lives?

By the way, this is exactly what Destination Imagination, Inc. prepares kids to do. Go sign your kids up, or volunteer! 😁 I guarantee it will change their lives. Adult volunteers benefit from exposure to the program as well.

As a software developer, I personally work to help push automation further via internet software, but I don’t think even my job is safe much less the jobs I work to automate. I look around and all I see is a bunch of jobs that software and robotics will be doing for us within my lifetime. It’s exciting, but may come a huge cost to so many, and we have to keep that in mind.

I want the guy down the road who plows the snow on my street and picks up my garbage to be able to find new work and feed his family when his job is automated by a self-driving truck. I want the teacher who is replaced by a VR headset and a limitless supply of educational programs to find new work so she can feed her family and enjoy her life. The assembly line worker who is replaced by off-shoring and more automated assembly line tools and robotic equipment should be prepared to learn how to do something else and continue their career path wherever it leads. The truck drivers, soldiers, pilots, and taxi drivers replaced by self-driving or remotely operated tanks/cars, autopilots, UAV’s, etc. need to plan ahead for a potential career change in a few decades. No job is safe, but we can adjust if we know it’s coming and plan for it ahead of time.

Would love to discuss the issue further below if anyone has thought to share about automation and the future of our service economy. It’s a fascinating topic, as scary as it is. I think exploration of UBI and a LOT more funding and support for job training during and after high school is part of the answer to this problem. I’ll read up on that and write more soon.