Mark Mills at Real Clear Markets just published an informative piece on how robots and automation are actually creating higher value employment.
“The challenges to substituting machines for workers in tasks requiring adaptability, common sense, and creativity remain immense.” – MIT’s David Autor, quoted in the article.
According to Mark Mills, the data show no serial escalation in the overall unemployment since 1961 with the ascent of knowledge automation, nor in the 120 years of ascending machinery automation.
Source: 1890-1940 data from Romer (1986), 1940-2014 data from Bureau of Labor Statistics
- What is different about this virtual robot revolution is not so much that robots will replace humans in certain tasks (they will) but that virtual robots – algorithms – are getting good enough at cognitive tasks to team up with humans, amplifying what people do. (Complimentarity)
- There are no longer rooms full of draftsmen, accountants or typists – all these tasks are still accomplished and more effectively. But there are more jobs overall. Complementarity at work. We can expect much more of this now.
- Algorithms, teaming up with doctors and nurses, will transform health care too. For example, rolling robot dispensaries can ensure patients get the right medications at the right times, delivered autonomously, using information from patient-embedded organic sensors, and smart pills that know when they’re needed and when they’ve been swallowed. All parties — nurses, doctors, patients and relatives — are seamlessly kept in the loop. The drudgery is reduced; the place for human talent increased and amplified. Complimentarity.
Working with robotics and automation and algorithmic thinking is likely to be a key to a successful future career.
As we have shown here:
We are not afraid of robots costing jobs. We see the integration of automation and robotics as raising the skill and quality of the jobs available. The person that can program a robot needs not fear robots.
But a healthy respect when in their work zone is probably warranted.