In the future, who will be left with a job?
Getting machines to do things for us has allowed us to do more with our time. But as technology progresses individuals, businesses and governments alike will look for ways to automate in order to save time and money. This is innocent in itself and makes sense, but with proliferation it becomes clear that a large number of the workforce will be impacted heavily and many will be left jobless.
Automation is outsourcing 2.0
Most all fast food outlets will be able to convert to mostly or full automated operation. This would reduce or entirely remove the workforce that these companies employ, which is in the millions of people globally. List of fast food chains.
tablets to appear at applebees is only the beginning. Food delivery to the table, cleanup and even the cooking can be automated. The end result will be a more efficient restaurant with a drastically reduced workforce. I suspect they’ll want to keep some human element in place, but it won’t be necessary.
Google is in the works on self-driving cars, along with some auto manufactures. What this will mean for us is a post in itself, but the impact it will have on the global workforce is startling.
- Truck drivers
- Taxi drivers
- Traffic cops
- Food delivery drivers
- Postal workers
- Train conductors
- Bus drivers
- Dock workers
- Refuse workers
Self-checkout lanes are the start, but eventually everything you pickup will be automatically added, and you’ll auto-pay once you leave the store. This reduces or removes the need for cashiers at places like Walmart, Target, and Rite-aid.
Warehouses & Factories
Once blue-collar jobs, these are quickly going the way of automation too. In some rural areas, these are the only employers around.
A machine knows every drink and always makes it right; but thats a lot of people who could be made redundant.
This has already taken hold and will only increase. While a boon to the farmer who has to work the land, it means less manual labor is required.
Online schools mean children can learn from a website instead of an actual teacher. If a child can learn at their own pace with a computer or tablet, what use is the teacher? While I don’t think this will eliminate teachers entirely, i believe it will significantly reduce the need for teachers and associated support staff.
With the advancement of 3D printers, things that we used to buy we’ll be able to print. Thus the labor required to manufacture and deliver will be reduced, though perhaps only replaced by demand for raw materials.
An automated surgery means the procedure will be quicker, cheaper, less intrusive and with reduced injury and casualty rate. It also means the need for surgeons will be reduced or possibly removed entirely.
Amazon air is likely more marketing than practical, but for a fleet of road-based machines to automatically deliver packages to doorsteps is obviously on the books for companies like amazon. Even if there are fringe locations like apartment buildings that require a human to deliver, theres still a large chunk of the labor force that can be removed.
Cleaning & Landscaping
Hotel rooms that clean themselves means less need for housekeeping. Buildings that wash their own floors and windows will need less janitorial staff, and lawns that are cut by a machine don’t need a human operator.
Police & Military
Drones are already in the skies, but thats just the beginning. Police and soldiers alike can be replaced with machines that can do the same job without quiting, injury, or disobedience. I suspect some level of control will still be required at a higher level, but thats still a big dent in the enforcement workforce.
And more! (or less)
With little imagination, it’s not hard to see how far this could reach. Is there anything that you need a human being for? Even stock trading and governance could be controlled partially or wholly with automation; much more so than they already are today.
Is anything safe from outsourcing 2.0?
It’s hard to say. The sciences and arts will likely be in demand if not flourish further, and would be hard to automate, but will surely be augmented more and more by technology. As these are two of humanities greatest strengths, it will be beneficial to our species to have more brainpower applied to them. This is of course assuming the reduced labor needs can translate into more people pursuing high-skilled jobs. I also don’t see vocational skillsets going anywhere although I expect some will evolve or be replaced.
Where does that leave us?
The class divide we are faced with today, will only widen. The number of opportunities for the lower class will drastically dry up, and demand for jobs across the spectrum will be reduced or eliminated equally. This will happen gradually, over time, as each is implemented and the new reality sets in.
Nothing is in itself wrong with these automations. They will likely be beneficial and better than the present state of things. But as this automation is implemented the demand for unskilled or low-skilled labor will reduce dramatically, and an unfathomable number of people will be left jobless and unable to find work or support themselves and their families. Crime will surely rise which will only further drive the widening social gap.
With the rise of automation, education will only come to matter even more. The minimum required to contribute anything to our society will continually rise and generations will be left behind in the aftermath. The future will likely be a dystopian one if we are careless about who we leave behind. Unfortunately the rate of change we are experiencing will only increase, and we have thus far been unable to adapt with any resemblance of speed to new changes and problems.
It’ll get worse before it gets better.