The fear of job loss to automation is growing with each announcement of some exciting new technological breakthrough. Bots are coming through the back doors promising to work 24/7, never call in sick, get hurt or sue for sexual harassment- at least not yet. Amazon Go is eliminating the need for cashiers and AI is already starting to diagnose disease, perform surgery and write films.
Scared? Of course, but what about excited? Hear me out.
This isn’t the first time in history that technology has replaced jobs, or the first time people are resistant to it. Yet every time it happened, new jobs were created to offset those that disappeared, although it was not possible to predict what those new jobs would be while these shifts were occurring. For example, 40 years ago, we wouldn’t have been able to predict that in 2017 we’d have millions of people employed as IT professionals, genius bar techs and chief happiness officers- yet here we are.
Based on a recent report released by McKinsey Global Institute, automation won’t eliminate the need for human workers, rather it will transform our day-to-day tasks, likely for the better. Breaking down 800 occupations into the task and activities they are made up of, it is estimated that while about 49% can be automated, less than 5% can be fully automated. Welcome news for sure.
Secondly, the aging population is contributing to a significant decline in the total work force, leaving a gap that automation can fill. To expand on that a little, 10,000 people are presently retiring every day (aka- the baby boomers), which makes up about 15% of the population and will grow to 24% by 2060- so that it’s only going to pick up momentum. For this reason alone, automation may just turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
Incidentally, these folks will also require lots of home care services to see them through their days on Golden Pond, jobs that tomorrow’s blue collar tech assassins will likely not be flocking to. Thanks to silver screen pioneers like R2D2 and RoboCop who lit the fuse on socializing the idea of bots and peeps co-mingling, the aging population will not only be furnishing it’s own work replacement but also bring its own shiny companions to the bingo tournament.
That’s a pretty big deal considering how many families are struggling with home care for the elderly. Under the current system, or lack thereof, unless you or your parents have big bucks set aside, you better get ready to go broke, drown in guilt or stir some white powder into Grandpa’s apple sauce.
The time has come for millions of robots to usher in the ‘Old Folks Rule’ revolution, restoring the notion that having lived, loved and given life is reason for celebration, not abandonment. That the end of life should be like the home stretch of a marathon where people are lined up cheering and showering you with refreshments, not wish you were gone, so not Pink Floyd.
Some day when I start to sing along elevator music and ‘pulling an all-nighter’ means not getting up to pee, I fully expect a small army of robots to interrogate my every need with such precision, that I remain suspended in a constant state of ecstasy with direct energy exploding on my nerve endings like the grand finale firework at Burning Man.
No reason getting old shouldn’t be fun for everyone. Let’s make it that way, so we can say to our children: “You’re welcome”!