Automation has been increasing at an alarming pace of late. A lot of jobs have already been automated, creating a job destruction that has the potential to run deep into the middle classes in the coming years. While many may welcome this, there are some great minds who speak otherwise about it as well as the ways in which it needs to be carried out.
Rising Concerns of Automation
There have been rising concerns of how automation could ruin the lives of millions of workers around the world. The pace at which robots are taking over human jobs is quite alarming, with many predicting that the threshold of job replacement will be crossed soon with meaningful job categories like driving, clean up and warehouse work, etc. being taken over by robots.
Serious Ramifications in the Job Market
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Stephen Hawking has revealed that the rise of artificial intelligence will most likely extend job destruction to the middle classes in the coming years. Hawking cites that with the current rate at which jobs are vanishing, chances for nearly 50% of all jobs in the U.S. becoming automated in the next 20 years is inevitable.
Let us take a few examples of industries that will probably experience the biggest changes due to automation.
Transportation and Warehousing:
This industry currently employs over 5 million Americans. Job automation in these areas could very well leave all if not most of these individuals jobless. While the arrival of self-driving cars is already posing risks of replacing a million drivers around the country, the automation of entire warehouses can displace nearly millions of Americans who are currently employed in warehouses around the country.
Stores: Amazon is currently running tests on a store that can function without any employees. All one would need to do is walk in and walk out with the necessary items and the shop will charge the money to the shopper’s bank account. While this does sound promising, one cannot but wonder about the 8 million cashiers and sales personnel who stand to lose their job in the process.
Restaurants: Over 14 million individuals are currently employed in restaurants around the U.S. As such, automating restaurant operations could literally make all of these people jobless. For instance, a restaurant in Japan is working on automating all of its operations, including taking orders, cleaning the dishes and even cooking.
Great Minds have a lot to say on Automation
Stephen Hawking has revealed that increasing automation and artificial intelligence will decimate millions of middle class jobs in the next few years. This could lead to serious inequality issues which may also lead to political upheaval at some point. He has revealed that with automation wiping out almost all the jobs, only supervisory and creative roles will be left for humans.
While Hawking warns of the impact of automation, there is no denying the fact that it is inevitable. However, other individuals feel that there is still time to take the necessary action to help displaced workers or adapt to increasing automation.
For instance, Bill Gates has recommended taxing robotic workers and the owners of robots. He believes that this will have a dual impact on the society. The money recovered via these taxes can be used to fund labor force retraining wherein drivers, cashiers and factory workers will be transitioned to other areas like education and health where human workers are still considered vital. The move to tax robot owners will also slow down the speed with which these individuals adapt to automation, thus giving plenty of time to displace workers.
Elon Musk has put forward another recommendation to keep the economy afloat in spite of large scale automation. He insists on adopting universal basic income to provide displaced workers with a stipend every year. He points out that the concept of UBI is already being practiced in several institutions across various nations in order to test the model’s effectiveness. For instance, countries like Finland will offer an amount of $587 to 2000 Finns on a monthly basis. Musk believes that UBI will smooth the transition process to automation to a considerable extent.
While the entire world is going gaga over driverless cars and drones, there are some who are worried about the pace at which job automation is growing. These individuals believe that the increase in job automation will soon leave millions of humans jobless as robots take over their jobs.