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January 09, 2014

Are we at a tipping point for jobs and society ?

Let us look again at the UK report on automation of jobs. It indicates that 47% of jobs are in danger of being automated within 1 to 2 decades. The report that looked at 702 different occupations and ranked them based on how likely they are to be automatable based on advances in machine learning, machine vision and robotics. The report only predicts that probability that a job could, eventually, be automated, not that it will be automated.

Technoccult points out that it doesn’t address other supply and demand issues. For example, there are more law school graduates now than ever, so although most legal work can’t be automated, it doesn’t make law a “safe” profession. It also doesn’t address the effects of some portion of work becoming automated, thus reducing the number of people needed. To use law as an example again, software tools make the discovery process easier, reducing the number of lawyers and paralegals required to do that task. In journalism, some types of reporting have already been successfully automated.

Business models, rapid growth of disruptive companies combined with technology make are creating waves of disruption.

* Redbox and Netflix and Youtube disrupted or are disrupting Blockbuster and traditional media
* The internet and highspeed broadband disrupting traditional media
* Quickbooks and Turbotax disrupting traditional bookkeeping
* legalzoom disrupting law profession
* Also continual business outsourcing combined with domestic companies and automation to take work to India and the Philippines and other places



Marginal workers get pushed out.
Those entering the workforce cannot get on the first rung of the career ladder.
Disruption can sweep an industry and leave a difficult retraining or re-careering task.
It can also drive down salaries.
This can be more of a problem when combined with paying off large student loans.

This is all happening while the very top (0.01%) get most of the gains because they own the companies.

This could be setting up for a repeat of the struggles of the early 1900s where there was revolution in countries like Russia and China to force re-destribution of land and resources.

Mismanagement in Greece, Spain and Portugal has caused big problems.

There is less room for missteps for individuals, households, cities, states and countries.

Institutions will likely need re-invention to enable people to weather the disruptions.

The social safety nets that were created in the Depression need to be re-examined.
Educational systems are insufficient for the normal old world need to be revamped for constant and effective retraining.
Expectations need to be reset.
Too many people are living on the financial edge and have no means to withstand a job disruption let alone a career disruption.

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