December 7, 2016

NO ONE WILL MISS WORK:

America's economic future isn't about factory jobs and trade deals. It's about robots. (James Pethokoukis, December 7, 2016, The Week)

[I]nstead of cajoling factory bosses or trying to rework 25-year-old trade deals, a modern, forward-looking American president would take note of Amazon Go, the online retailer's new brick-and-mortar grocery store project. Walk in, flash your phone, then grab and go. It's "frictionless," meaning no human cashiers to deal with. So what does this portend for the nation's 3.5 million cashiers?

Along the same lines, what do autonomous vehicles mean for the nation's nearly 3 million truck drivers? Toss in taxi and bus drivers, and it's another million jobs. Indeed, most of the decline in factory jobs has been due to automation rather than offshoring to cheaper labor markets overseas. Indeed, "now the chief executive of United Technologies, Carrier's parent company, says in the end, many of those jobs (he put the figure at 800) likely will fall to automation rather than Mexico," says The New York Times.

There are lots of competing forecasts about how automation will gobble up American jobs. A recent McKinsey analysis of job automation risk found nearly half of current job tasks could be automated "using already demonstrated technology" -- but fewer than 5 percent of jobs could be entirely automated. The caveat here, as with all such analyses, is that emerging technologies could change these calculations and make more jobs vulnerable. Regardless, it seems safe to say that smart robots and software will at least do more and more routine or repetitive bits of jobs, hopefully allowing workers more time to focus on the creative, design, or emotion-driven parts of their work.

Posted by at December 7, 2016 5:02 PM

  

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