Thoughts On: Jobs

President Trump talks about bringing manufacturing jobs back to America. There’s nothing wrong with that. He’ll get the big press release of 1,000 here, or 5,000 there. He’ll brag about how awesome he is for making them come back or how companies are reinvesting in America. But, up to 88% of manufacturing jobs that were lost were taken by robots/automation, not China. And that’s just the beginning.

Advances in artificial intelligence, automation, renewable energies, and self driving vehicles are going to drastically going to change the American workforce in the next decade. Many jobs will become obsolete.

Artificial intelligence and automation will impact us in ways we cant even imagine. A.I. systems like Watson have already begin to help doctors diagnose patients in ways no human even could. A.I. will also power manufacturing automation and self driving vehicles. According to Fortune:  “The Bank of England estimates that 48% of human workers will eventually be replaced by robotics and software automation, and ArkInvest predicts that 76 million U.S. jobs will disappear in the next two decades.”

Renewable energies will also drastically change how we allocate jobs. Politicians continue to pander to coal states, but that industry is gasping for life in the new alternative energy economy. Today, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is higher than at any time in the last 650,000 years. It is imperative to cut carbon emissions from petroleum and coal before CO2 levels cross a point that ruins our planet’s eco system for generations to come. There are exciting developments in solar, nuclear fusion, and nuclear fission. A recent NOVA episode showed the significant improvements in nuclear reactor technology that is making the next generation far safer than ever before. Nuclear fusion is also starting to show promising results. Oil and coil jobs will be a thing of the past. We cannot and should not pander to coal and oil.

Self driving vehicles are nearly ready to hit the roads of America, and that’s a good thing. Every year, there are over 30,000 Motor vehicle deaths in United States. Self driving cars will eliminate most to all of those fatalities. Self driving cars and trucks will also eliminate the need for cab drivers, chauffeurs, and truck drivers. Some even think self driving cars will spawn a new industry of “call as you need them” cars, which would decrease the sales of automobiles, thereby decreasing automobile production and reducing the required labor. How will cars that crash less impact insurance companies? No one even knows that yet.

All of these are examples of how the labor force will change in the coming decades. We cannot burry our heads in the sand like an ostrich and say the jobs that always were will always be. We need to look to the future, not cling to the past. This will require continuing education or job retraining. But, it will need to be addressed sooner rather than later.

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