The future of jobs is soon coming to head and the end of manual labor for the mass society of Americans as we know is coming to an end sooner than you expect.
I have had this conversation with a friend of mine and acquaintances who simply do not believe it and just want to put their heads in the sand and want to wish it all away. They think that technological advances in automation of so many different industries is “so far” away that it will never be seen in our lifetimes and they just don’t want to even face facts and numbers. It may not be the ‘Terminator’ style ending that we saw in the 80’s and 90’s from the Arnold Schwarzenegger hit movies, but robots will basically take over everything that we do.
I will point you to the screenshot above from the 2008 Disney movie, ‘Wall-E‘. As you see the movie progress, you will see that humans have evolved (or devolved, however you want to see it) to a point that robots do everything they need and there is no real need for the manual labor of people anymore. Obviously, this also shows the progression of humans getting more obese, but that is not the point of this post and I will not delve into that side of things. I want to point out, that the future portrayed in this fictional movie is really not far from us, as technology stands today.
I have shown the video of the Tesla automated semi-truck to my mother’s boyfriend, who is a truck driver and has been for multiple years. He just laughs and says “good luck”. I have shown him that his job is going to be questioned in the near future. As companies get larger and larger, they will want to automate and efficiently get rid of human workers in the process. Humans are the most expensive and least cost efficient part of any process and they can cause errors on a much higher level than robots will ever do. One of the worst economic examples of this, was bust before the millennium in 1999, when a NASA, Mars observer was burned up in the martian atmosphere, due to the translation between imperial and metric measurements. As this was obviously due to American’s stubbornness not to change to the metric system, this mistake would not have been made if a trained robot was doing the work, but I digress.
We have seen the idea of automated cars driving around and now taxiing people around cities like Las Vegas as the likes of Waymo, Lyft (aka Level5) and Uber are all working to eliminate their drivers. You can see some automated systems in cars now like lane assist and automated breaking systems that are already being sold to the public in cars from companies like Ford, Toyota and Chevrolet, just to name a few. The human driver is the worst accident causing part of the driving equation and the faster we can remove that from behind the wheel, the better off we are.
Obviously, this is not something that we can do overnight or even quickly, but will take a serious amount of time for acclimation for the society at large to accept this, but it will happen. Let me repeat that for affect here, IT WILL HAPPEN. I have already seen so many skeptics and worker’s unions fighting this, but there is no real need to fight it. Technology, no matter how big or small, has always and will continue to enrich our lives. the problem is that humans are infallible and will always find a way to make any process longer, take their time or just flat out quit. Humans are not really built for repetitive tasks and we need to understand this moving forward. There is a reason, as I write this, I begin to think of the writer’s worst nightmare, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
I am using driving cars as the example above, but it can be repeated for many, many industries across our human work force. The most menial jobs will be the jobs taken over by robots and automation, which include service jobs like fast food, hotels and even security jobs. I could take almost any industry and show you how there are, or will be automated robots take over some aspect of the job. When it comes to even more dangerous and even more skilled jobs, these are not left out either. Since most of the ‘blue-collar’ jobs will be taken first, I can see how the ‘mob mentality’ will fight this the heaviest, but do not dismay, as the ‘white-collar’ jobs are also on the way out as well.
You have to understand that automation knows no bounds and does not care at what level anything is. If a process can be eliminated or automated, robots will take of this in the future for us. This can be software robots or even hardware robots. Many robots are already out there in today’s workforce that you may not even be aware of. I currently work at a car plant that ’employs’ loads of robots to do a lot of tasks that help alleviate worker strain or even repetitive tasks that a robot that only needs light maintenance and doesn’t require a paycheck to do so. This can be seen across almost every car manufacturer today.
You may have heard of or already know about the IoT, a la the ‘Internet of Things’. This is the area of the gadgets that we have, that will be a part of this network. This can include but not limited to, things like our Amazon Echos, our Internet connected weather vanes, or just some internet connected toaster that allows us to control it via the internet in some fashion. Basically, anything that we attach an internet connection to, that previously did not have internet access, just for the simple means of having access to it remotely, is a part of, or will be the IoT. We as a society are connecting more and more things to help enrich our lives, so that we can basically control our lives from the smartphone, that the automated robot future is just an extension of the current reality that we live in today.
I could go deeper into this rabbit hole, but I just want to say this. Many of our jobs, in the next 2 decades may be all but eliminated and we need to be prepared for that. Many tech pundits of our time today are talking about the Universal Base Income (UBI) because the distribution of wealth will most likely stretch even further than it is today and the super rich will become the super super rich as they own and build the robots that will be the future we are looking at. The idea that everyone, everywhere will get the same basic income because robots and automation will most likely wipe out the middle class is not that far from the truth, if you expound upon the ideas of what I am speaking of above.
I am not here to say that your job is in direct fear of losing it to robots right now, but it is over the next few decades and I include myself. I am stating however, we need to plan now for this automated future and not try to tear it down or block it before it comes. As history has taught us, those who oppose future, always fail. We are about to embark upon the next revolution with automation, the same way we did with all the technologies of the past, being that of the printing press, the cotton gin or the airplane. The next ‘Industrial’ revolution is upon us and we must understand it now and try to begin to educate ourselves for the future instead of trying to either idly stand by or try to tear it down like uneducated cavemen of the past.
My recommendation is taking the next hour or so and reading this article from the Guardian and watching these videos below. If the videos below interest you, I recommend heading over to ColdFusionTV on YouTube and subscribing to his videos as well. Be prepared!