It’s a headline that is all too familiar these days. As the world of automation grows and workers are being replaced by robots in factories, farming, and even food service – the concern of what to do with this displaced workforce is becoming a leading topic among economists as well as world and business leaders.
Many of these very learned men and women were among those talking about just that, this past week in Beverly Hills, California at the Milken Institute’s Global Conference. This elite think tank invites some of the most well respected and most powerful people to gather together for four days to find solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. This year’s theme was “The Future of Human Kind.” It was fitting that a lot of the conversations steered towards robots, automation, artificial intelligence, and the growing role it is playing in the world of industry and the office.
Martin Ford, author of Rise of the Robots, was on hand to share his doom and gloom predictions of the not so distant future of when not robots, but algorithms and technology advance to a point that there is no need for the average, middle class worker.
Think about data processing, machines essentially do it for us already. Accounting? Nursing? We have systems programming, MIS departments, teams of people who watch over the machines now, for sure – but how much longer until they run themselves? Deep learning and artificial intelligence is breaking new grounds everyday. In fact, you could say some of the brightest minds are now working towards creating a future in which robots run everything for us.
And companies are okay with this. In fact, they want it.
Lyft announced that they have partnered with GM to create a fleet of self driving cars as early as 2017. After the recession hit, and people flocked to gig-based ways to earn extra income, one of the more popular routes was becoming drivers for services such as Lyft and Uber. Now those very companies are looking for ways to automate the process and remove the drive all together. Now the fares collected will go directly into the company’s pockets.
Even the government is worried about the future of robots and our economy. Earlier this year, the Economic Report of the President was published, which includes a very dire prediction: there is an 83% chance that workers who earn $20 an hour or less could have their jobs replaced by robots in the future. Those in the $40 an hour pay range face a 31% chance of having their jobs taken over by the machines.
It’s a grim outlook for lower and middle class citizens.
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