According to the Oxford University 47% of all jobs could be automated by computers within the next two decades and no government is prepared to follow the changes that will bring. This was published in the 2013’s paper: “The future of employment: how susceptible are jobs to computerization?”
Now an expert at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania is bringing the subject back. Art Bilger, venture capitalist and member of the board says these jobs include blue and white collar jobs, even if so far the loss has been restricted to the blue collar variety.
To fight the “structural unemployment” and its consequences Bilger created the nonprofit American Nation, whose mission is to warn the public and help make plans to safeguard tem from this trend.
He believes “the nature of employment is fundamentally changing and cannot be reversed. But workers, businesses and the government can prepare for it if they work together, starting with stepped up infrastructure spending that has bipartisan support.”
Before, mechanization had always cost up jobs, but also created new ones. Mechanics had to keep machines going, machinists needed to make parts for them and workers had to attend to them. But with this new trend computers are and will be able to perform tasks more cheaply than people and they’ll be more efficient too. The problem, besides the loss of mid-level jobs is that the benefits only go to the wealthy ones, to the top 1%.
Jobs like accountants, doctors, lawyers, teachers, bureaucrats, and financial analyst’s jobs are also at risk. According to The Economist, computers will be able to analyze and compare data to make financial or medical decisions for example. More so, this will lead to less of a chance of fraud or misdiagnosis and the process would be more efficient. Besides wiping out jobs the trend is likely to freeze salaries for those who remain employed and while the income gap increases this will only add more trouble to people’s stability.
Bilger believes this problem has been going on for a long time and one proposed solution is a universal basic income. This baseline income could help people survive while re-education programs could help them find new pursuits. This could mean a new flowering of humanity where people follow their passions rather than the dollars.
In a recent Wharton radio program, he talked about retooling the education system entirely. This includes adding classes that will help people get the jobs available and retraining the middle-aged workers so that they can participate in the economy instead of being left behind.
Certainly there will be winners and losers form this change, and not everyone will accept to be retrained or change. However, as Bilger said in the interview, “What would our society be like with 25%, 30% or 35% unemployment? … I don’t know how you afford that, but even if you could afford it, there’s still the question of, what do people do with themselves? Having a purpose in life is, I think, an important piece of the stability of a society.”