Over the past few years, I have noticed a trend taking hold at an alarming pace – the trend of technology weeding out people’s jobs. This will not seem like a revelation to many of you. After all, we have all seen the self-checkout lines at grocery stores and watch with bated breath as Tesla attempts to perfect a self-driving Uber. I just flew from LAX to Toronto to visit the Bombardier factory where the plane we took completely flew itself from takeoff to landing without a human being. The pilots were there only to make us feel safe and actually fly the plane in the event something went terribly wrong – but of course, it did not. Once in Canada, I visited a McDonalds that was all but automated except for the cooks. Half of the jobs in the restaurant that traditionally had been needed were flat out cut. It’s all fascinating but what really keeps me on edge is the slow boil of it all. Today, tasks have already been automated. Automated skills are coming next. What happens when technology replaces management, medical care (doctors) or even legal representation (lawyers)? It may seem far-fetched but pay attention. It’s already happening and will only continue to evolve at a more rapid pace now that the foundation has been laid.
Right now, the bulk of people’s jobs are centered around managing technology. Art directors use Photoshop, surgeons rely on robotics, and marketing directors create automated communication plans. Those professions have changed drastically in the last 20 years. When I was a kid, mental math and fact retention were impressive signs of intelligence. Now, even that has been weeded out as everyone turns to his or her smart device for answers.
As technology improves, we will become more dependent on it, and more susceptible to being replaced. How do you work hard to advance in a job when the job doesn’t exist because a computer does it for you? And make no mistake; technology and automation are eating up exponentially more jobs than they are creating. Pretty soon there will not be the same upward mobility opportunities available for the masses to take advantage of that were present for previous generations. Working hard and ambition just won’t cut it anymore. We will begin to derive value only from someone’s critical thinking ability or his or her analytical mind. This is going to lead to an even greater divide between the haves and have-nots, something we already see dramatic examples of in developing nations across the globe.
I don’t mean to inspire panic or come off as an alarmist, but I am seeing this happen subtly at an increasing rate. Right now technology is only replacing the lower level jobs but it will continue to move up the spectrum and when it does, jobs people strive for today will be consolidated or eliminated. Tomorrow will arrive faster than you think…so why not start preparing?