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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Here Come the Robots

Robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and other forms of automation are making rapid progress. According to a 2103 study from the Oxford Martin school at the University of Oxford, 47 percent of current US jobs will be automated (or computerized as they put it) by 2033.

That 47 percent includes virtually all repetitive or analytical work. Nearly all unskilled or low skilled labor will be replaced, including nearly all jobs that can be done without post-high school education. It will also include the vast majority of currently unionized jobs. Of course there will be additional jobs lost when those 47 percent are automated. Specifically people whose employment relies on the half of the work force being replaced by robots. For example: What will happen to road side diners when driverless trucks are used to move goods across the country?

Driverless cars, which will eventually replace taxis, buses, Uber drivers, teamsters and other transportation workers are just one of the clearest examples. Other impacted industries will include:

It could even include some medical workers, investment analystscreative workers and possibly even sex workers. At some point, robots may even be responsible for designing and building robots

In case you're under the impression that this is all based on one paper out of Oxford, see also:

Autor Paper at Jackson Hole: Automation Is Polarizing the Labor Market (Wall Street Journal, August 2014)
Navigating the Robot Economy (NovaNext, October 2014)
Robots Rising (MIT Technology Review, August 2014)
How the Robotics Revolution is Reshaping Political Economics (ExtreTech, February 2016)

You can also just Google it, there are plenty more where those came from.

At this point no political party anywhere really has a handle on the situation or plans for what to do when robots take all of the jobs. Banning the robots won't work, it is simply not in human nature to ban bulldozers to make more work for people with shovels, but if half the population has no income capitalism won't function very effectively.

This site will monitor the march of the robots into the workforce.