Up to this point, surgical robots have required a human operator, just as current AI-assisted vehicles still require a driver, but more and more functions are becoming fully automated. And as with vehicles, robotic surgeons are on the verge of becoming fully autonomous.
With much lower error rates, these advances will be great for patients but, again, not so great for human surgeons.
- Casualties: 11,963,000 Jobs, 8% of the workforce
The fact is that no industry or profession is safe from automation. What early machines and robotics did to agriculture and manufacturing, AI is doing to today’s “thought” jobs and professions.
Even poor foreign workers that are still willing to work below the poverty line are being displaced by technology.
On May 25th of this year, Foxconn, the largest contract electronics manufacturer in the world and primary producer of Apple iPhones, cut 60,000 factory jobs and replaced them with robots.
Robots do not require a livable wage and thus wage workers are being cut, and those cuts are not isolated abroad.
With a rising minimum wage, US corporations are likewise looking for alternatives to humans in entry level positions…
“It’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who is inefficient making $15 an hour bagging french fries.”
-Former McDonald’s USA CEO Ed Rensi
Right or wrong, the trend is fundamentally unavoidable due to the overwhelming economics. Companies that do not automate will be put out of business by competitors who do.
- How We’ll Profit from Losing Our Jobs
Question: Who benefits from a jobless society?
Answer: Those who own the companies and technologies of the future – i.e. shareholders – will reap the bulk of the rewards. As companies lay off workers and replace them with software, company productivity and profits increase.
Of course, if technology puts everyone out of work, personal incomes fall to zero and only the few can afford the products and services that those same companies sell.
This problem is recognized both in Silicon Valley and by government. “Universal Basic Income” or UBI for short, has become the new catch phrase to address the problem. It is a form of social security to maintain reasonable living standards for those made jobless due to structural technological unemployment.
In regard to broad living standards, it is also worth noting that because of technological advancement, our lives are radically better today than they were a century ago or just a decade ago.
On the whole, nearly every aspect of our lives has improved: food, clothing, transportation, communications, and energy are cheaper and more abundant. Our access to information and knowledge is unprecedented and ever expanding.
Perhaps most importantly, our medical care is far more effective as once fatal diseases become curable, such as Hepatitis C and Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia to name just two very recent examples.
We continue to believe that despite mass technological displacement and unemployment, our broad standard of living will continue to improve over time.
Really, the key individual issue of work and access to employment is about controlling one’s own destiny – it’s an issue of social and economic mobility.
Fortunately, for those who recognize the disruptive shift in today’s economy caused by exponential technologies, there is a rare opportunity to earn more wealth than from a lifetime of 9-to-5 work.
- Exponential Wealth Creation
Today, wealth is being transferred at an incredible pace.
Economic rewards are moving to the best ideas and the shareholders in those ideas faster than ever. Billion dollar companies are being created (and destroyed) in exponentially faster time-frames.
The life cycle of startups to billion dollar market value is shortening drastically. Just look at the following chart: