Articles‎ > ‎Future Technologies‎ > ‎

The Robots Are Coming, and They're Taking Jobs (but Creating New Ones)

It seems like every time a new technology gets created, it threatens the livelihood of individuals that derive their income from that industry.  Progress destroys some jobs (generally low skilled), but at the same time it always seems to create new jobs (generally higher skilled).

Consider when the first cars came on the road, it literally killed a whole industry that was created around horses and related types of vehicles and the infrastructure needed to maintain it.  For example, horse related jobs like: breeders, ranchers, stables, etc. became obsolete (or needed less) over time, but it also created thousands of new jobs that required newer skill sets, to support the car industry.

With other inventions, such as the personal computer which replaced thousands of old jobs (for example manual paper book keeping and filing) over time.  Although also like the car a new industry was started around it that created thousands of new jobs that required newer skill sets to support it. 

Over the last few hundred years there are several other examples where new technologies forced the decline of something while creating a whole new industry to support the new technology, but I will not belabor the point.

I think we are getting ready to see another technological revolution with advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence. As you already know robots have been extensively used in manufacturing for decades so its nothing new.  Although, consider new technologies like the UAV (Unmaned Ariel Vehicles) Drones are replacing the need to have jet pilots in the cockpit.  While at the same time its creating a need for new jobs to be created such as drone pilots, and people to design, build and maintain these vehicles.

Companies like Google already have self-driving cars, I am not sure why they created them other then the challenge and to keep their Google Maps updated (just speculating).  Although, how hard would it be to adapt the technology to replace taxis and truck drivers (I'm not advocating this, but I see the potential for it to happen)?

Technologies like IBM's Watson computer that beat humans at Jeopardy is currently being consider for use in call centers, sales jobs, or whatever they can think of.  Although, all this technology will take low skilled jobs, but it will be replacing these old jobs with new ones.  Such as jobs for: sales people, programmers, engineers, installation and repair, etc.  Generally side businesses also grow out of these new industries like consulting, 3rd party repair and parts, etc.

The key to not being replaced with any new popular technology is to realize how to grow with it, then being paralyzed by the thought that your skills are not going to be needed in the future.  For myself, I'm a System Engineer by trade, but with the advancement of Cloud Computing overtime it will make part of my current job skills obsolete.  To ensure that I can compete for future jobs it requires me to upgrade my skills constantly and stay on top of new technologies.

Related videos:
Erik Brynjolfsson: The key to growth? Race with the

Shyam Sankar: The rise of human-computer cooperation

Comments