How many Jobs can Technology Kill?

The most frightening and disruptive aspect of technological unemployment is that nobody knows how bad it really is. To add to the fear, economists, entrepreneurs, technologists, computer scientists, and other big brain brains seem to be just as confused and as frightened as the rest of us.

Automation will kill millions of jobs, leading to wage stagnation, and a rebirth of Communism within a generation, Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England predicted. Carney fears that big data, artificial intelligence, and better machinery will make income inequality far worse.

The disruption created by the current wave of technological change will be as great and as destructive as that ushered in by the Industrial Revolution, Carney said at the Canada Growth Summit. Weak salary growth proves that the world is facing a crisis of income inequality as great as that in the 19th Century, Carney speculated.

Bank of Governor thinks Technological Unemployment will lead to Communism

Carney thinks that most people will be totally surprised by the changes, The Independent reported. He also thinks the rich and executives are prepared for the changes but the masses are not.

“There is a disconnect in expectations,” Carney warned. “In surveys, over 90% of citizens don’t think their jobs will be affected by automation; but a similar percentage of CEOs think the opposite, in the number of jobs which will be materially affected.”

Carney’s belief is that mass unemployment and labor and political unrest as great as that of the 1930s is just around the corner. He pointed to the use of artificial intelligence in banks and law firms as a precursor to a mass die-off of jobs. He also thinks that Marxism is about to undergo a revival.

“If you substitute platforms for textile mills, machine learning for steam engines,” Carney noted. “Twitter for the telegraph, you have exactly the same dynamics as existed 150 years ago – when Karl Marx was scribbling The Communist Manifesto.”

Carney might be onto something here it is not unemployed working stiffs that ferment revolutions. It is unemployed or underemployed intellectuals and disgruntled clerks; not factory workers, that lead the revolutions. Examples of such troublemakers include; Thomas Paine, Robespierre, Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Castro, Trotsky, and Mussolini, they were all middle-class intellectuals – not workers.

Will Technology Kill the Jobs or create more?

Not every economist agrees with Carney, the brains at the World Bank seem to think just the opposite.

“Although a range of workers is being replaced by robots, the overall impact of technology on employment, especially in developing economies, is smaller and slower than many fear,” The Changing Nature of Work a World Bank Development Report released on 30 April 2019 claims.

“The study’s first finding is that the threat to jobs from technology is exaggerated,” the report notes. Their thesis is that hard evidence for technology’s threat to jobs is lacking.

“Technology can enhance the productivity of workers, individuals can seek flexible job arrangements, social discrimination can be alleviated, and consumers enjoy more product choice at lower prices,” the report’s authors conclude.

Why you should be afraid of a Technological Jobs Apocalypse

What should an average person, such as a middle-class property owner who does not want her home ransacked by a revolutionary mob think? The best advice I can think of is to be afraid for two very good reasons:

  1. Some very intelligent people who know are very familiar with technology are scared to death of technological unemployment. Some of the most disturbing statements have been made by Elon Musk.

“Even though not all jobs can be performed by computers or robots, there is a clear need to address millions of people losing their jobs quickly,” Musk told the Merkle on 8 January 2018. The Tesla and SpaceX billionaire, a Silicon Valley insider, believes millions of jobs are about to vanish. He thinks a basic income will be necessary to prevent social collapse.

Since Musk was right about electric cars, PayPal, and the ability to build reusable rockets there is a good possibility he is right about technological unemployment. Unlike the economists, Musk actually understands the technology and its limitations.

Sir Richard Branson has expressed similar thoughts. Unlike Musk, most tech industry leaders refuse to address the issue of technological unemployment directly but they refuse to refute his contentions. My guess is that they are afraid to give the mob a rationale for burning their mansions and smashing their servers. The people most familiar with technology believe that mass unemployment is inevitable.

  1. Many of the economists seem to be unfamiliar with modern technology, and not appreciative of its disruptive potential.

When Facebook founder and Fair Shot author Chris Hughes surveyed economists and tech leaders on the prospect of technological unemployment he found the same troubling disconnect Carney mentioned.

The technologists Hughes talked to were all scared to death of technological unemployment. They all believed a technological jobs apocalypse that would cause mass unemployment is imminent.

The economists he chatted with seem to dismiss the notion. Their advice was not to worry because “history demonstrates that technology creates jobs.” Hughes’s interesting book Fair Shot provides a detailed examination of the debate and its consequences. Disturbingly, Hughes; who is very familiar with the tech, agrees with the technologists.

Since the technologists are familiar with the technology I would listen to them. Remember, the technology we have today is like nothing we have seen in the past. Academics like economists are often less familiar with cutting-edge technology than the general public.

Note: Carney an economist who is very familiar with cutting-edge information technology and Fintech (financial technology) agrees with the technologists. The governor of the Bank of England believes a Technological Jobs Apocalypse is imminent.

The Technological Jobs Apocalypse What to Expect

Predicting the exact effects of new technologies is impossible, but we can make a few general conclusions about the coming Technological Jobs Apocalypse. Here is what everybody should understand about Technological Unemployment:

  1. Technology will kill large numbers of jobs over the course of the next few decades.

 

  1. Technology will create vast numbers of new jobs over the next few decades.

 

  1. Income inequality is likely to get a lot worse. There will be a lot more rich people and many more poor people around.

 

  1. The destruction of jobs will lead to widespread cultural, political, social, and economic upheaval.

  1. Technological Unemployment will be far more widespread and destructive than most people expect.

 

  1. Most individuals, businesses, governments, unions, institutions, families, and society are not prepared for the Technological Jobs Apocalypse.

 

  1. New technologies that almost nobody anticipates will suddenly appear and wipe out thousands of jobs.

  1. Unanticipated new technologies will suddenly appear and create vast numbers of new jobs.

 

  1. A lot of people are going to make a lot of money from the Technological Jobs Apocalypse.

 

The coming Technological Unemployment will be very different from past waves of job destruction because of the nature of the new technologies. Large numbers of middle and lower-class jobs; including many clerical, accounting, writing, editing, administrative, analysis, and research positions will be wiped out.

Historically, Technological Unemployment has most affected unskilled and semi-skilled laborers. Office workers were usually affected. That will not be the case this time around; vast numbers of office workers will lose their jobs and end up back in labor positions or in the gig economy. Even some highly-paid people such as investment bankers, fund managers, and traders will see their jobs threatened.

For example, a paralegal at a law firm; whose job can be done cheaper and better by artificial intelligence, might end up waiting tables or bagging groceries. An accountant, whose job can be done by algorithms, might end up driving Uber. Fund managers; whose work is already being done by AI, might end up delivering pizza or selling real estate.

What you can do to Survive the Technological Jobs Apocalypse

Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to survive and thrive in the technological jobs apocalypse. Those survival steps include:

  • Keep abreast of new technologies especially in your field. Tech news sources like Wired, Ars Technica, Vox, The MIT Technology Review, TechCrunch, and general outlets like The Guardian, New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and Business Insider do a good job of covering tech developments. Glance through these and trade journals and specialty websites covering your business to see what is coming. Take a little time to sift out the fake news and propaganda but pay close attention.

 

  • Develop some job skills that are not likely to be automated. Tasks machines are not likely to do anytime soon include gourmet cooking, hairstyling, truck driving, heavy equipment operation, baking, house painting, carpentry, gardening, sales, teaching, caring for kids. Having several job skills, especially skills that can translate into side hustles can pay off.

 

  • Develop special and unique knowledge or skills that wealthy people will pay for. Becoming the best hunting, fishing, or whitewater rafting guide, or craft brewer you can – might provide a good income. Remember there are going to be many more rich people with far more leisure time on their hands in the future.

  • Have some other job qualifications or specialties. It might be a smart move for an accountant to get a teaching license or credential. Most accounting tasks are likely to be automated in less than a decade, but they will still need somebody to teach algebra to high schoolers.

 

  • Get additional education especially in technology, marketing, and finance. Take advantage of the many educational resources online such as Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs). It is now possible to take in lectures from top professors at major universities for free anytime, anywhere.

 

  • Pay off your debts; especially your mortgage and student loans, as soon as possible. Extra cash and spending power will be more valuable and useful than ever in the years ahead.

 

  • Cut back on your expenses and live sensibly. You do not have to go off to go Off the Grid, but learning to live with less money will make life a lot easy. Simple steps like taking public transportation, riding a bicycle, growing a garden, and cooking your own meals can reduce both stress and your expenses.

  • Develop sources of income that do not depend on a “job.” Examples include investments like stocks and bonds, side hustles, cryptocurrency mining, rental properties, small-business ownership, websites, freelance work, gig-economy work, and franchises.

 

  • Look into side-hustles, gigs for extra income that you can do. There are more side hustles around than ever before and new ones are appearing almost every day. Examples include online freelance work, software and app creation, garage sales, website ownership, Lyft and Uber driving, delivery services like Instacart, Roadie, and Grubhub, writing, arts and crafts, cooking, consulting work, landscaping, housecleaning, home maintenance, part-time work, farming, sales on online platforms like Etsy, eBay, and Amazon, auctioneering, sales work, skilled labor like carpentry, painting, welding, etc. There are also new kinds of online work being pioneered by companies like SyncFab and Aitheon.

  • Save up as much extra cash as you can. There will be incredible opportunities for those with extra money in the coming decades.

 

  • Learn as much about the financial system and the new financial technology as you can. Fintech is advancing by leaps and bounds and creating vast numbers of new money making opportunities that average people can take advantage of. Areas to pay close attention to include blockchain and cryptocurrency.

 

  • Be prepared for technological surprises. Job-killing technologies likely to take everybody by surprise over the next decade include hot fusion, Hyperloop, automated stores, and flying cars.

 

The Technological Jobs Apocalypse is real and it is almost here.  Get ready for it now, because Technological Unemployment will affect your life.