Fact No. 2 : Did you know 50 percent of today’s jobs will not exist in ten years time?
How is this possible? How is it that half of the jobs people do today, will cease to exist in just a decade?
The answer lies with technology. As technology advances and becomes more capable, thanks to artificial intelligence and robotics, we will find computers and robots doing more and more of the jobs that were traditionally only possible for humans to do.
Machines are now able to drive cars, fly drones, speak like people, prepare meals, dispense medication, monitor our health and a whole host of other things. In the next few years, your taxi will be a self-driving vehicle, your waiter, chef and baristas will be robots, the cashier at your nearest supermarket will be an AI, the call centre agent you speak to will be a computer, and your medication will be dispensed by a robot pharmacist. But this will just be what we see on the surface.
Machines will be doing countless other “invisible” jobs, jobs where we don’t normally get too see the workers, in industries such as agriculture and manufacturing. They will also do dangerous jobs like mining and undersea and space exploration.
Machines have many obvious advantages over human beings, which will provide compelling reasons for businesses to adopt them in favour of humans. Machines don’t get tired or sleep, so are able to work 24-7. The best part is, they don’t earn a salary. They are more efficient and more precise than human beings. They don’t have personal problems, take sick leave, or go on holiday. A single machine might be able to replace dozens of human beings.
And did I mention, they don’t earn a salary?
With benefits such as these, it will be impossible for businesses to resist going the automation route; and as these technologies gain traction and become more widespread, they will gradually displace their human counterparts.
This is by no means a new trend. We’ve seen theis trend repeat itself over and over again in the past two centuries, where new, innovative and highly efficient machines replaced human beings en masse in farms and factories around the world.
But there was a major difference: in the past, machines were only able to take over the most manual types of work, the type of work that is highly structured, boring, repetitive and required no thinking at all. They were ideal for large scale farming and manufacturing, where they plugged the fields, harvested crops and worked in assembly lines systematically assembling components, weaving cloth and filling containers.
Today’s machines are a lot more capable, thanks to artificial intelligence, and are able to complete exceedingly more complex tasks.
Another likely scenario which will lead to jobs disappearing, is technological obsolescence. With the incessant flood of new innovations every year, existing technologies are constantly under threat of being replaced by newer, better technologies.
In one moment a technology is the kind of the hill, and in the next, it is a memory of the past.
The thing is, when a technology is replaced or disappears, along goes the entire associated industry and all the jobs in that industry.
We’ve seen this trend too repeat itself over and over in our lifetimes. Devices, gadgets, software and online services have come and gone. One of the most dramatic cases of a tech completely disappearing, was that of the video cassette recorder (VCR). At one stage, there were only two ways to watch a movie: on TV or on a VCR.
The VCR industry was huge at its peak, making billions of dollars in revenue and employing hundreds of thousands of people across its value chain, from research and development, to manufacturing, distribution, marketing, sales to after-sales service.
Add to that the associated industries that went hand-in-hand with the VCR industry, such as cassette manufacturing and sales, movie production on tapes, video rental stores and the like, and you can see how huge this global industry was.
Here is a mind-blowing example: the movie Lion King on video cassette sold $500 million worth of copies – that is half a billion dollars worth! That is just one movie!
Of course, as history testifies, that industry wasn’t going to last, and sure enough, towards the end of the last century, video cassettes were replaced by CD’s and then DVD’s. Blue Ray disks are enjoying a bit of time in the sun, but with 4k streaming and fibre internet becoming a standard in households throughout the world, even Blur Ray is destined to go the way of the VCR.
Now take some time to think about all those people who worked in the massive VCR industry, either directly or indirectly. It is not inconceivable that the number of people who earned their livelihoods through this industry would have been in the millions. What happened to all of them when the industry disappeared?
We know they didn’t die of starvation, so obviously they moved into other jobs in other industries. That is the nature of technology.
Ultimately, there are a few lingering questions: what current technologies are destined for the garbage dump, and what is the next big thing? What industries are going to go bust in the next decade?
And most importantly: What jobs are going to disappear, and what new opportunities will arise?
How do you future-proof yourself?