Automation will continue to improve, people will continue to implement automation in new industries and in new ways as technologies improve, and automation will affect employment: these things are certain. However, there’s far less certainty about how exactly automation will affect employment. There are two popular opinions on the subject of automation and employment:
- Increased automation will allow people to focus on new types of work leading to new jobs.
- We will automate most types of work, rendering most people unemployable.
Group one says that history supports their claim. We’ve seen increasing automation across several industrial revolutions, and every prediction of an unemployable workforce was proven wrong.
Group two believes that the internet is a game changer and the catalyst that renders history irrelevant; the past was the fuse on a firework and the future is the rocket sailing into the clouds.
The beauty of this debate is that both sides are right, and both sides could be wrong. Historical evidence supports the belief that people will continue to find new means of employment. However, the world is radically different thanks to the internet. Ultimately no one really knows what’s going to happen.
The nature of work could give us clues about the future of employment
Instead of looking at what’s happened with automation and employment in the past or predicting the future based on technology’s potential, we should examine a job for what it is.
Jobs, professions, occupations, employment, work, etc. are all just different ways of referring to a person’s role in society. At its essence, a job must provide some type of benefit for society, and the person performing the job must receive some type of benefit from society.
Meaningful work in the form of jobs didn’t just fall from the sky with a nice, tidy job description. They didn’t emerge fully grown from the sea. There isn’t a big book of jobs that has existed since the dawn of time, and a list of possible professions wasn’t carried down a mountain on a stone tablet.
Over time people identified tasks, services, and things that need doing. A job has always been a task that contributes to society, whatever that looks like in that time and place.
There was a time when food delivery drivers, truckers, fast food workers, runway models, and most of the other jobs staring down the barrel of automation never even existed.
We now have jobs like wedding coordinators, professional decorators, and life coaches that are safe from the reaches of robots. It would be difficult to imagine the job of an “influencer” even a decade ago, yet people earn a living telling other people what to buy.
Humans won’t become obsolete
People roll with the punches, adapt, and adjust to variation; that’s one of the big advantages humans have over machines. We will continue to find new jobs and new ways to be useful. Providing a useful service has looked different throughout man’s existence. As the world we live in changes, and as our way of living evolves, so too will the types of work that need doing.
In the present, make sure that your machines are running optimally. We offer preventive maintenance, inspection, and repair for Indramat motion control systems. Call 479-422-0390 for immediate support.