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Here’s another great article about impending job losses over the next decade due to advanced automation, and it’s not just factories anymore. As the tasks that robots and all kinds of intelligent software systems become more subtle we may approach a point where there there will be a net decrease in total jobs.

“They also said that robots and so-called digital agents will displace more jobs than they create by 2025.

Yet articles like this always include caveats :

“White House economists said they don’t have enough information to judge whether increased automation will help or hurt the U.S. economy. For example, new jobs could emerge to develop and maintain robots or other new forms of technology.”

This has always been the case in previous ages such as the industrial revolution and the mass production factories of the 1950s. In those eras, the next generation could always learn a new trade and the economy expanded as a whole. I’m an optimist, I believe that the when the children of today grow up they will find ways to add value and ‘work’ that may be impossible for us to forsee.

But the current revolution requires something those previous ones did not.

“according to the White House, the key is to maintain a “robust training and education agenda to ensure that displaced workers are able to quickly and smoothly move into new jobs.”

They’re right, current workers in many careers will no longer be able to do the jobs they have. They can retrain, but how fast? These changes are now happening faster than a generation. The user drivers of today putting taxi drivers and dispatchers out of work through technology are funding research into self driving taxis that will lead to the destruction of that entire type of job.

The amount of training required to get the safe jobs that the article talks about takes years and very particular aptitudes. We need to begin to address as a society about all the ways citizens can contribute. Is worn for a wage the only system available? Some Nations will have a better chance of having this discussion than others. But for the nation most at risk to this trend, the United States, I fear that discussion will be incredible hard to even start.