To the hard working manufacturers and blue collar laborers. The ones Bruce Springsteen writes depressing songs set to deceptively upbeat tempos about and pickup truck commercials and spray tanned politicians pander to. You were the first to go.
You were recently swindled into thinking illegal immigrants and globalized trade agreements took your job. But that only accounts for 13% of total job loss. No, your job was taken by a soulless machine, a machine that never has to take a piss, leave work early to attend to a sick child or sue you if it gets damaged.
And if you’ve avoided being replaced by robotics so far, your end is near. The tech industry will say reassuring things like “robots won’t replace you, they will make your job easier.” But accelerating advancements in the dexterity and precision of robotics means there won’t be a task they can’t accomplish better than a human. It’s only a matter of time.
Blue collar workers, you’re going to lose your job.
So you are forced into retail. Shit wages for shit work, dealing with entitled and anxious customers buying the products you used to make before a machine took that from you. At least it’s a job. Well it was as a job, until the internet of things and mobile tech eliminated the need for you to be there.
Retail workers, you’re going to lose your job.
Maybe you’ll start driving a car for Uber. You heard you can make okay money doing that and set your own hours. Until you learn that Uber is already testing self-driving fleets. Indeed, 2016 was the year of progress for self-driving cars. And you are only kidding yourself if you don’t think commercial drivers will be the first to go. That includes traditional taxis and truck drivers (of which there are 3 million 18-wheelers on American roads). Even parcel delivery drivers could see jobs erode as self-service kiosks on wheels roll up to your door.
Commercial drivers, you’re going to lose your job.
I see you sitting behind your computer screen in a cushy office job. You’re thinking: “these people just need to get educated and learn a 21st century job.” Did we feel bad for all of the farrier’s put out of business by the automobile? Of course not. Progress is a good thing and they just need to move to another industry.
But then you see that advancements in artificial intelligence have accelerated so rapidly in recent years that millions of jobs that used to require human brain power are being eliminated and as much as 47% of all jobs in the next 2 decades will in some way be transformed.
When I saw first hand these advancements at the IBM World of Watson conference I struggled to sleep pondering just how fundamentally different the world will be within a generation. First it will be positions like tech support, paralegals, medical coders, researchers, executive assistants. Then as the technology only continues to improve at exponential rates, you don’t need quite as many accountants, lawyers, doctors, financial analysts, researchers and other high level professional jobs. Even software developers aren’t immune as machines evolve through training, instead of running lines of procedural code written by human hand. What once took millions of high paid programmers now only requires a fraction.
Knowledge workers, you’re going to lose your job.
Okay, fine. You can just be an artist. It may not usually be a well paying pursuit and you may have to be lucky enough to have some innate talent, but creativity has to be what truly makes us human – right? Well shit.