The workforce landscape is due to change in the next decade. Robotics and artificial intelligence will perform any dull, dirty or dangerous jobs. Driving, one of the most popular jobs in the US, won’t even exist as a job as autonomous vehicles creep in. Roads will be safer, transportation more efficient – and millions of currently employed people will be out of the job. In ten years everybody will be forced to be an ‘entrepreneur’, and that won’t be a good thing. Welcome to the gig economy.
Imagine you are a large corporation and you no longer need drivers to deliver your goods, no people in the warehouse to fulfill orders and your factory is just as clean as it is empty of people. As a company this is a rather attractive scenario – humans are complex whereas robots don’t get tired, don’t ask for a pay raise, don’t go on strike and have a more predictable output. As machines replace the workforce, your company becomes ever more competitive, delivering goods quicker and cheaper. However, there is an obvious dark side to this equation. Imagine now you are one of the workers – suddenly redundant and out of a job. Efficiency doesn’t sound so good then. Half of the workforce is expected to be replaced by robotics in the next 20 years. Some go further and predict 80% of jobs to disappear in the next 10 years. Such drastic change to the employment landscape is already starting to happen and is a real threat to the stability of the society.
It’s not the first time the world faces this crisis. At the time of the industrial revolution many predicted unemployment to rocket as machines replaced factory workers. Although it happened to some extent, fairly rudimentary machines meant workers were required to oversee and maintain the new tools, and when the economy expanded other jobs were created as a result. Farmers that had moved to the cities were first trained as factory workers, then many were re-trained as delivery drivers and other new jobs as the need arose. Now, as autonomous vehicles become a reality, truck and taxi drivers will have to retrain and learn new skills.