Home Futurology Future of Work Will Automation Eliminate Our Jobs?

Will Automation Eliminate Our Jobs?

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Jobs have been automated for a long time…

When the printing press was invented, it eliminated jobs for the people writing books by hand.

When the cotton gin was invented, it eliminated jobs for people working in the fields

When the automobile was invented, it probably created a big impact on jobs. There was less need for local replication of every business type (locksmiths, specialized retail shops, butchers, etc) and probably impacted demand for trains

When the television was invented, it probably eliminated a lot of radio and live entertainment demand (and thus jobs)

When the computer was invented, it eliminated the need to have a travel agent call the airlines, hotels, etc among many other manual tasks

These are only a few examples. Every single technology advance eliminated some jobs. However, what we haven’t cited in any of these examples are how jobs were simultaneously created. The automobile created thousands of manufacturing and service jobs. Sales jobs. Driver jobs. And shifted demand in entirely unrelated industries (tourism, logistics, etc). Ditto for television, the computer, etc.

Think about the internet for a second. How many jobs did that automate!? It’s amazing to think about. However, nowadays, how many people rely on the internet to do their jobs? How many people have created internet businesses? A lot. People were worried about that stealing jobs. However, it’s probably created more jobs than it eliminated.

Speaking of these statistics, consider employment. In light of all the technology advancement we’ve had in the last 20 years, many economies stand at full employment. In the US, we’re at historically low levels of unemployment. Many other economies can say that same thing right now. And when you dig into the numbers a bit, you find that hundreds of thousands of jobs disappear every year, However, hundreds of thousands more are created. So our global economies are ultra efficient in re-balancing jobs.

robots jobsSo what about the future? We’re going to have AI! We’re going to have robots! They will steal all our jobs! No. We fully disagree. They will take some jobs. However, they will create so many others. A few observations why…

One obvious answer is that many jobs will be created to code, manufacture, market, distribute, and service this technology. It’s just re-balancing. An accountant or truck driver’s job may be eliminated. But someone will have to create, sell, and service the machine that does this.

Automation creates extra time. If you’ve ever started a business or worked in a company, you know there’s far too much work to be done. There are projects that get rejected because there isn’t enough money or resources to do them. Businesses avoid entering entire industries or creating products because they want to narrow their focus. Even individual jobs never seem to be finished (there’s always work to be done). They require prioritization. So it’s logical to say that automation increases available time. And that time will just be re-used in a different way (which requires hiring for whatever initiative is chosen).

Assume for a second that automation frees up our time and there are now less human working hours required in the overall economy. That now creates leisure time. And think about how many businesses are devoted to leisure time. Tourism and hospitality. The restaurant business. Entertainment, whether it’s sports, television, theater, etc. The list goes on. If less hours are demanded for work purposes, then those hours are now re-balanced to be demanded leisure time. And all these things require jobs. Demand has simply shifted in this instance.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, is that people focusing on job-killing technology are failing to consider job-adding technology. And the biggest one by far is virtual reality. VR creates an entirely new world just like the internet did. The number of jobs that will be associated with VR will be similar to the number of jobs that are now associated with the internet. New businesses, products, services, entertainment, and much more will be dedicated to this technology. The same goes for other job creating technology like alternative energy, biotechnology, and drones.

So our opinion is that automation will not reduce jobs. It will definitely shift jobs but it’s not going to eliminate all our jobs. That’s just not thinking through this stuff in enough detail or looking at past examples.

With that said, however, certain people need to be prepared. Doctors, lawyers, accountants, manufacturers, drivers, cashiers, and various other people need to adjust their skills. Their individual jobs may be eliminated or may require different qualifications. They have plenty of warning time to consider whether their job is at risk and time to make adjustments. Reverse Tide, helps these people. Mostly these two pages:

The Future – where we predict what will happen in the career space. We look at virtual reality, AI, robotics, and more technology and forecast its impact. Job elimination is one such topic but we also focus on the opportunities each affords us

Reverse Tide Learning – where we help people actually learn the most relevant skills for today AND tomorrow’s economy. We help with learning paths, the best learning sources, learning at a low cost and as efficiently as possible, getting experience quickly, and then eventually getting a job.

So rather than people panicking about job elimination, we hope we can provide an opportunity for them!