As high school pushes on, many of us can’t help but ponder about what jobs we’ll occupy in the future. Problems like economic depression and unemployment only advance farther as soon, we won’t just be competing with other humans for jobs, but with robots as well. Can you outshine a programmed robot for the job you desire? What’s your plan if you can’t land a job because robots execute work better? Will any job be safe from automation’s spread?
Automation describes the incorporation of machines into the workforce. I’m sure you know how robots are beginning to take over factory jobs. When it comes to repetitive manual labor, robots seem to dominate. But why does this matter?
Manual labor jobs make up 10 percent of all the jobs in America. Imagine the mass unemployment that would occur if robots took all of those jobs.
Robots have already taken a massive amount of manual labor jobs around the globe. According to futurist Martin Ford, between 1995 and 2000, China lost 15 percent of its manufacturing workforce due to advancements in workplace technology. That amounts to around 16 million jobs lost, all due to automation. Other physical jobs such as woodcutting, fishing and transportation will also soon be done by robots.
Automation takes more than just low-skill manual jobs. Machines threaten many of the high-skilled jobs that we, as current students, aim for. According to reporter Vasant Dhar, jobs relating to data keeping (accounting, credit analyzing) will soon be performed by robots, who compute numbers perfectly. Additionally, machines like 3D printers will take over high-leveled mechanical construction, building faster than any human could.
So what can we do against automation? In the past, many were quick to dismiss the threat of automation, dutifully believing that automation would create as many jobs as it took. Automation creates jobs relating to caring for machines, such as debuggers and coders.
Those high skilled jobs would require workers to go through expensive, time consuming education, which the lower class cannot afford. Meanwhile, the soon to be robot owning upper class will become even richer, profiting off their machines cheap labor. A huge income gap will develop as the poor get poorer while the rich get richer.
When America’s income gap grows, our middle class evaporates. As outlined by the research group Center for American Progress, the middle class stands crucial for America’s economy. Without America’s middle class, we lose a stable consumer base.
Innovation depends on the middle class, as job growth stems from expanding smaller businesses, not large corporations. Without a strong middle class to object inequality, the government will cater toward the rich elite who hold power in society while the lower class suffers.
Our generation will be hit hard by automation as new technologies develop to takeover more work. Who knows what machinery will exist after we leave college, searching for a full time job?
It’s time to start thinking about answers to automation that will actually work. If we allow automation to continue down its current track, America’s income gap will enlarge as millions of workers struggle to find jobs. What jobs will be left for you?