Automation is slowly but surely creeping into our personal lives through the applications and services that we use. This has never been more apparent than when Google announced that its Inbox application will start crafting auto responses for user’s personal emails. While this feature may seem convenient, it may signal a bigger shift for the future of the economy.
We all know what killed manufacturing jobs in this country: automation and cheaper overseas wages. While the automation makes our jobs easier, it can also eliminate jobs for communities like the city of Gary. What is to say the introduction of robotic and mechanized automation won’t be different in this new emerging wave? A lot of desk jobs out there involve sending and receiving a lot of emails. The introduction of automated responses could in time eliminate those job functions or positions altogether.
This brings me to the broader point about automation: what does the future of work look like for humans? With AI becoming smarter and more responsive each year it seems that eventually almost every job could be replaced by an AI system. With AI controlled drones, self-driving cars and predictive text, technology certainly seems to be headed in the direction of automation on all fronts.
But what happens if we start eliminating more jobs than we can replace? Some would argue that the latest recession really put that question to the US. Will a lack of jobs cause our culture to rethink humans roles in the world? I could definitely see a future where part-time jobs are the norm and full-time jobs are not. Automation would rule the market and humans would be there to manage and oversee tasks instead of perform them. We are starting to see that shift in the trucking industry with truckers taking a backseat to self-driving trucks. I believe that movies showing a society run by robots for the benefit humans is actually pretty close to what we will see in the year 2077.