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Workforce & Industry

Will a Robot Take My Job?

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The workforce issue we need to talk about:  “Big, unavoidable, disruptive change is coming, and the workforce is ill-prepared”

“Daniel Gerstein provides a thoughtful overview of the worldwide challenges automation poses. For the last 100 years, workforce challenges had readily available escape hatches for the displaced workers. The situation isn’t as clear-cut this time. The United States needs a proactive strategy to handle the coming changes in labor and the future of work as we move towards an increasingly heavy presence of AI, robotics, and automation. The wave is just beginning, but it will become a tsunami.” – Matthew Wallace, CEO


A REVOLUTION is occurring at the intersection of technology and labor. Change will be uneven across sectors and across the globe. But it will come. Technological advances in artificial intelligence (AI), autonomy and robotics will fuel these changes, aided by the synergistic effects of the Internet of Things (IOT), three-dimensional (3D) printing and big data sciences.

The development of these technologies brings the promise of higher productivity (and, with it, economic growth), increased efficiencies, safety and convenience. However, it also raises difficult questions about the broader impact of automation on jobs, skills, wages and the nature of work itself.

The effect on labor will undoubtedly be disconcerting for many as jobs will be eliminated or greatly evolve. Some “traditional” jobs will become obsolete or numbers of workers in them reduced as technology further encroaches into the workplace. In addition, workplace productivity will increase, while the human labor demands will be dramatically decreased.

Some futurists, such as Homi Kharas at the Brookings Institution, predict that a child born in 2020 might never have a job. Others talk of different types of jobs—nontraditional by today’s standards—where workers will work on a contingent basis. Examples of early adapters in this type of work are Uber and TaskRabbit, where workers set their own schedules and decide how many hours to work. A World Economic Forum report, meanwhile, estimates that “65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.”

Read more at The National Interest.