The Automation Age, or Why your job won’t exist within the next 30-50 years.

In the next 30-50 years, 95% of the jobs that exist today will no longer exist.

That’s my estimation, but it’s consistent with a growing number of futurists[1] and even general business leaders [2].  Why? Automation.  This isn’t the automation of the industrial revolution, nor the automation of the information age.  This is orders of magnitude more than both of those combined, and it’s coming as a combination of micro AIs coupled with advancing robotics and augmented reality.  We’re already seeing it happen in fast-food and similar low-wage jobs.  But it won’t stop there.  The Automation Age transition will eventually wipe out nearly all of the white-collar jobs as well, thanks to the emerging micro AI industry.  These are first appearing as controllers for the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as Business Intelligences, such as the algorithms that manage the automated price shifting and recommendation engines that Amazon has.  They showed up 50+ years ago in planes with the autopilot, which can currently fly and land the plane better than any human, and are currently showing up in new cars, that can already drive more safely than any human.  Just this last bit alone will be wiping out the human jobs in the trucking and taxi industries over the next 5-10 years, possibly more, depending on how fast the regulations get pushed to catch up.  Trying to hold them back won’t work either; that would be like trying to build a sandbag wall along just a 100-foot stretch of beach as the tsunami approaches.

This is a Good Thing(tm).  What we have to handle correctly is the change, and in order to do that, we have to switch to something like a Universal Basic Income (UBI).

A UBI becomes feasible once automation has exceeded survival / basic need consumption by a certain margin.  It becomes necessary once that same automation actively prevents a certain portion of the population from working.  We entered the “feasible” phase about 40-50 years ago; to prove this, all you have to do is look up the worker productivity graphs tracked by the governments all over the world.  Now, however, we’re rapidly approaching the “necessary” phase; we’ll hit it in about 15-20 years, once a significant enough number of industries have ceased to need 99% of their human jobs in order to accomplish the same tasks, and actually improve on them.  In some cases, whole industries will vanish entirely, as they were purely supporting some portion of human jobs in another industry.

What will happen if we don’t implement UBI in some form?  Remember all those dystopian sci-fi novels, wherein a very few people control everything, and 99.999% of the population is living in abject poverty and starvation, and life has ceased to be precious?  That.

So, the real question is, why are people fighting so hard for that, when they, their children, and their children’s children, are the ones who will suffer?  Habit and familiarity.  Fearmongering, by the people who stand to lose the most by a change to UBI; the most, but not even remotely everything.  Fortunately, a new generation is coming up, one that wasn’t raised on fear of the “socialism” specter – which was and is complete garbage; we’re already a socially-focused society, because socialism is better known as morality and civilization.  The fearmongering equated dictatorships and single-party systems with socialism, and therein lies the problem.  But I digress…

How do we switch to UBI?  Very, very carefully.  Switching too fast can damage the economy.  Switching too slowly can damage the economy, and inflict massive levels of human suffering.  My suggestion would be to start with the homeless and those industries that are being automated first, as well as with full subsidization of all college-level education, like we currently do with primary through high school.  Add onto that subsidized maternal and paternal leave, as well as pre-schools and all basic health care, and you have a viable start.  Again, carefully; not too fast, not too slow.  We can make an amazing future together, if enough of us realize where we need to go and what we need to make happen.

  1. [1]
  2. [2]

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