There has been much talk about a looming employment crisis. Future forecasts indicate 25M workers in the US will be replaced, over the next decade, by the introduction of autonomous agents and AI systems. There seems little in the way of stopping this emerging technology; be rest assured it is inevitable. Call it what you want…disruptive, intrusive, fearful, we must adapt and prepare for a very different future.
Many of our manual and repetitive tasks such as call centres and service areas, home care, receptionists, labourers, drivers will be replaced by software agents and robotics. Think about your child walking to school protected by a pet robot. Even highly skilled areas, such as triage, lawyering and teaching, will affectively change (positively?) how we live and think about life on this planet.
Creativity and innovation needs to replace our outdated education and social systems in order to prepare our next generation of workers. Politically and economically, we need to look at a basic wage for all, since many of our traditional trades such as farming, mining, engineering will be replaced by automation. Franchising and labour arbitrage will be the future employment, providing limiting short-term positions to those who can apply an eclectic set of skills in a multiple job environment. Creativity, resilience, flexibility will be the key elements of our success.
There is little doubt that technology will be at the forefront and a required requisite for most jobs. At the top of the list will be Machine Language and Data Scientists. But also, the soft skills will be a primary requirement. Robotic agents and AI cannot replace our ‘humanness’ qualities. We will still need empathy, understanding, kindness, consideration: The touch and gentleness of a real person to augment this artificial intelligence.
Socially we will experience upsetting times. There will be much upheaval, the likes of which we have never seen before. There are strong indications it has already begun in some industrialized countries. We will need strong leaders and convincing answers because the alternative will be unbearable. Expensive social programs are costly but far better than a revolution, destruction of our values and the degradation of human life.
Our social and economic landscape is changing at lightening speed and might come to a disastrous end unless we acknowledge and prepare for this new paradigm.