Hooray for the machines! They’ve created millions of new jobs
Fears of jobless growth recede as markets demand new human skills
The prophets of doom have been hard at work for the past decade, telling us that automation, robotics and machine learning are going to destroy jobs and leave millions of people unemployed and destitute. The reality has been somewhat different!
Yes, some jobs have been taken over by the machines. But they’re the dirty and dangerous jobs that most people did not want to do. Who wants to be a farm labourer or a production-line worker?
It’s also true that many higher-level jobs have changed. AI systems now handle legal research, basic architectural design and much medical diagnosis. But this has enabled people to move themselves up the value-chain. Human empathy, curiosity and innovation remain beyond the reach of the machines.
A slew of new jobs has emerged. Just as web developers and social media managers were unheard of in the 1980s, so the marketplace has demanded new skills, from personalized health workers to remote controlled vehicle operators and customer experience experts. The care, creative, technology and business service sectors are booming.
The biggest change has been in the nature of work. Augmentation is the name of the game. High-skill activities like surgery, for example, are now delivered much more effectively through a powerful combination of human judgement and machine processing capacity and speed.
With robotic, 3D and 4D manufacturing in full swing, many companies have refocused their attention on services – and no-one, or nothing, is better at delivering service than motivated human beings.
The overall result is dramatically improved productivity in virtually every sphere. We’ve all benefited, but none more so than the poor, through access to cheaper goods and services. It’s a race with, not against, the machines.
Warning: Hazardous thinking at work
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