Have you noticed that the stock market has been doing great and companies are talking about big profits but the numbers of unemployed have remained without a whole lot of reduction?
Consider this, over the same time period that the economy has been in the toilet, technology is allowing companies to do more with fewer employees needed.
Companies are utilizing smart technology to find new and better ways to take care of routine tasks through automation.
This unfortunately leaves more people that otherwise would have been in mid-level jobs, out in the cold. Lower paying service jobs are stacking the income distribution curve so that the majority of earners are shoved to the bottom of the pile.
The other day I had coffee with a leader in a technology company that specializes in the automated writing of news stories about sporting events.
The company has major contracts to deliver stories and can easily publish about five million stories a day using $400 of technology and computing power. Their work is so good that you’ve probably read the stories they produce and didn’t even know it.
In a small way in my life I can already see the impact of technology cutting down on demand. Our little Neato robot vacuum cleaner does a really terrific job of keeping the floors in the house clean. It runs by itself, returns to charge and cleans every inch of the floor before moving to the next room.
Because of owning this little robot we have less of a demand for either cleaning ourselves or using an outside cleaning service.
Some jobs that may be replaced by automation as technology becomes faster, cheaper and smarter are pharmacists, drivers (automated cars), store clerks (better automated checkout), and reconnoissance pilots and some fighter pilots (drones).
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We might be quickly headed towards an economy where there are fewer high paying jobs and many low paying service jobs, with a shrinking number of jobs in the middle.
If this polarization continues, a whole cohort of people who expected to be middle class—or at least financially stable—might find themselves living a very different reality. Then they might start asking questions about why they are in that position. If it gets increasingly hard to pretend that the average liberal-arts degree prepares a student for a decent job, there may be broader support for a sober assessment of our education system, and the reforms it needs. – Source
Kiva Systems is another example of a company developing technology that replaces workers. It’s order fulfillment robots reduces the need for more employees. The company was recently purchased by Amazon.
Not only do the Kiva robots fill two to four more orders per hour, but they cost about $20,000 each and have a seven year useful life.
The news of this advancing technology should not alarm you in the short-term but it should open your eyes as you look more long-term in the future of the career path you have elected.
Think about the days of needing a neighborhood travel agent. There are now generations of new people that have never visited a travel agent because automation and technology through the web has made the need for a travel agent, less necessary.
But as this new technology replaces old jobs that were historically performed by human employees, it will be exciting to see what new possibilities open up for future employees. Jobs we may not have even envisioned yet.
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