The answer lies not in retreating behind isolationist walls but in properly educating and training people to face up to the "Fourth Industrial Revolution".
- One theme of Davos this year is how white-collar workers could be next in the firing line, after their factory brethren, given the rapid evolution of artificial intelligence.
It’s estimated that between 35 and 50 percent of jobs that exist today are at risk of being lost to automation. Repetitive, blue collar type jobs might be first, but even professionals — including paralegals, diagnosticians, and customer service representatives — will be at risk.
This isn’t just science fiction, it’s happening now.
- Manufacturing is the first places we see robots and automation eliminating human jobs, but it’s hard to think of an industry that will be left unaffected as robots and AI become more affordable and widespread.
Most people are in jobs they don’t particularly enjoy, with lots of mundane and repetitive tasks. Is it not our obligation to pass those jobs to machines?
From a business standpoint, any consultant would tell you that any task that can be systematized and automated should be. Many jobs are not jobs humans should waste their time doing.
- The challenge is to rethink our economic model to ensure the people who will do something more interesting and enjoyable can afford to do so.
All these technological advances that we are creating today — big data, artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things — represent a significant challenge to capitalism.
- The more we automate and systematize, the more we see jobless growth and productivity. Taken to its logical extremes, we have a paradox of an exponentially growing number of products, manufactured more and more efficiently, but with rising unemployment and underemployment, falling real wages and stagnant living standards.
In other words, more products produced more cheaply and efficiently — but no one able to afford to buy them.
In fact, it’s already begun.
The rate of technological progress and worker productivity is on the rise, but wages are stagnating, factories are eliminating jobs, and researchers estimate that anywhere between 35 and 50 percent of jobs that exist now are in danger of being lost to automation.
But what if the prognosis weren’t all doom and gloom? What if all this automation were instead to provide so much luxury that we enter a post-work era when humans are required to do very little labor and machines provide everything we need?