Sixty percent of jobs are at risk of being replaced by automation and very soon most if not all human labor will be lost to machines.
A new industrial robot offers an impressive illustration of how competent a robot arm can be. The robotic arm has an animated flat-screen face and wheels for mobility. By manually grabbing the robotic arm and guiding it through a series of motions, the robot arm “learns” whatever repeatable procedure needs to be done. The robot can manipulate objects quickly and fluidly with very little human monitoring. In the past, industrial robots were difficult to program, with this new robotic arm anyone can program tasks in less than five minutes. The robotic arm and its two-armed alternative, can operate for a “wage” equivalent of less than $4 an hour.
Amazon has installed over 100,000 robots in its warehouses and they have plans to install thousands more. The robots are said to save the company $22 million annually at every warehouse. The company’s master plan for automation will include replacing every delivery driver with drones and self-driving vehicles.
Uber and Google have already rolled out driverless car services. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration officially recognized “software” as a driver years ago. Self-driving vehicles will replace 4.1 million paid motor vehicle operators, trucks, buses, delivery drivers and Uber drivers sooner than expected.
It is not only low and middle skilled work that is being replaced. New lawyers and accountants are discovering the industry can no longer employ the numbers it once could. Software has replaced the need for armies of lawyers. Some fields will resist being replaced, doctors will do their best, but they won’t be able to hold out forever. At this point if your doctor isn’t searching online for your symptoms you should probably find a new doctor, diagnostics will not be the domain of the doctor for long.
Almost every level of human work will be replaced by A.I. and automation. Theoretically, being replaced by robots could free people from the toil of having to work. It could mean the end of mass employment and wage slavery in the ‘late modern west’ and the beginning of a new age of leisure, where people can endeavor to do whatever they please without concern or constraint for having to work. All of this could provide people a greater opportunity to pursue more fulfilling lives.
We are on the cusp of an enormous shift. This time of transition is important and either we seize the means of automation, or we pray for the super rich to take care of us with a Universal Basic Income in a neo-feudal future.