About That Hysteria Over Robots Stealing Jobs…

I keep hearing that robots are going to take all our jobs.

It hit a little close to home this week, when I read that a “robot reporter” had penned its first article in a Chinese daily.

Outlets like Wired magazine are hyping a potential disaster for employment, with articles such as “Rise of the Machines: The Future Has Lots of Robots, Few Jobs for Humans.”

The piece is full of scary prognostications. Here’s one example:

Oxford University researchers have estimated that 47% of U.S. jobs could be automated within the next two decades.

There’s some truth here. Over the next few decades, many jobs will be automated.

For example, the massive trucking industry will soon be disrupted as self-driving 18-wheelers hit the road.

As a result, America’s 3.5 million truckers face an uncertain future. Their industry is already discussing it in places like AllTruckJobs.com.

Imagine owning a trucking company, and someone told you [they] could safely (and legally) double your productivity at a fraction of current overhead costs.

Double productivity at a fraction of the current overhead…

Fortunately, this blogger is doing exactly what they should be – preparing for the shift.

What are truck drivers to do?

Prepare.

Many jobs will be lost and many of these drivers do not currently have the skills they will need to find a future job, whether still in the trucking industry or not. The skills needed to secure a job in the trucking industry will change from mostly operational to managerial.

Couldn’t have said it better myself. And the new managerial positions this industry creates will be high-paying, I’d imagine.

From Agriculture to Service and Tech

Despite the scary headlines, it’s important to remember that this automation trend has been ongoing for centuries.

Textiles, agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, etc. We’re simply talking about the replacement of human labor with machines.

It’s not a new thing that’s happening because of computers. It’s just improving, as it has from the beginning.

Technology has always been a disruptive force. It has the power to change the way we live like nothing else.

It also tends to increase our productivity exponentially.

For example, in 1820, around 72% of U.S. workers were farmers.

Due to technological advances, today just 2% to 3% of the U.S. population can produce enough food for the entire country (and export a bundle too).

I have to imagine that as the gas-powered tractor was launched, a similar hysteria gripped America.

If Wired had been around when the tractor launched, its headline might have read, “Rise of the Tractors: Millions of Farm Workers Expected to be Penniless.”

But in reality, the tractor made it possible to build the modern economy we have today. Agriculture workers shifted to manufacturing and service industries.

The bottom line is that technology increases productivity. And while adjusting to new tech can be painful in the short term, it’s the only way forward.

So while I’m certainly worried about truckers and other workers threatened by new tech, I can’t help but be thrilled by the improvements we’ll soon see in efficiency and productivity.

Robots have been taking over our jobs for centuries, and we should be excited about it.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Adam Sharp
Founder, Early Investing