This video by CGP Grey, fortells one of the largest challenges facing the workforce, in the next 10 to 50 years. This video in some ways restates the research from MIT Sloan in the book Race Against the machines.
As terrifying as it may seem – machines aided by artificial intelligence and learning systems are going to replace most of human “work” as we know of it today. The video estimates that 45% of today’s jobs will no longer exist in the future. Jobs such as driving (taxis or trucks), farming, manufacturing, computer programming, legal transcriptions and medical diagnostics will be performed by machines in future.
An interesting video here shows the power of today’s industrial robot. The robot called Kuka almost beats the world champion ping pong player. Even if the robot hadn’t beaten him in this game, he can continue to play for days without getting tired – whereas the human player needs his rest. The robot Kuka can also beat 99.9% of the other ping pong players in the world. It is also not too long before Kuka can learn all of the ping pong player’s tricks.. with proper adaptive learning as shown by this robot at GT
So, what have leading economists and policy makers thought of this transition?
One solution Professor McAfee from MIT Sloan alludes to in the video excerpt from a TED talk below- can alleviate the economic stress of such a transition. The solution alludes to partially guarantee-ing a minimum income to everyone.
This reduces the problem, but , how will mankind create and sustain 45% of the workforce without an employment. What will happen to today’s services based workforce. Will it just reduce to a set of people controlling machines, and profits?
These are larger questions, and only time will tell..
Scary as it may sound, I am hopeful that the economics we have created is much better, and there is hope.
I. During the transition phase – to a machine world, many new jobs will be created in the automation segment. Such jobs would enable the creation and maintainence of machines that replace humans.
A shift from a services based economy to high-tech, high-end engineering economy with computer science, information systems, automation, and robotics will emerge.
This work will continue till robots become fully autonomous – i.e. manufacture, program and service other robots. That point of self-sustenance is further away.. into the future (may be beyond 50 years).
II I am also hopeful that newer forms of work will emerge – especially if and when man succeeds in his quest for interplanetary existence.
Efforts are on 24X7 (link here, spaceX mars) by some of the best and brightest minds in the industry. Human colonizing of Mars will potentially happen atleast before the current work on earth will be replaced by machines.
This is imminent – and will create many more different types of challenges which are probably beyond the comprehension of machines. Human work will be needed when such interplanetary existence happens.
Overall, I am hopeful that before an employment crisis starts to emerge and society starts to feel its impact, mankind will find an alternative solution. This solution will possibly be in human extra-terrestrial existence, which will provide an expansion of the economy beyond what we know off today.