Technology needs no help to disrupt work and displace people. It inherently accelerates change driven on its own momentum. The pace of that change is also accelerating. As a result, automation and jobs have been nearly synonymous. Just about everything we knew and believed about work, jobs, careers, and the workplace is moving rapidly toward obsolescence.
But the economic need to improve productivity will throw fuel on the flames of disruptive innovation. And compared to the previous disruptive technology, automation is likely to be a doozy.
For example, productivity growth from the steam engine in 1850-1910 was a whopping 0.3% annually. Information technology fueled growth 0.6% from 1995-2005. In comparison, automation in the form of artificial intelligence, robotics, and machine learning is likely to propel productivity growth 0.8% to 1.4% annually through 2065.
With that said, there are a lot of myths, rumors, and “alternative facts” associated with
how automation will change the way we work, live, and play. Here are 10 of the more reliable facts blended with a few predictions.
- Good news! Less than 5% of all occupations include activities that are 100% automatable.
- Bad news! 60% of all occupations have at least 30% automatable activities and more than 1/3 are at least 60% automatable.
- From 1965 to 2015, productivity grew 1.8% and employment grew 1.8% annually.
- In the next 50 years, productivity will grow 2.8% while employment will grow 0.1% annually.
- About ½ of the activities people are paid almost $16 trillion in wages may be automated.
- 60 million workers in the U.S. hold jobs with automatable activities.
- China has 394 million workers and India 233 million doing automatable activities.
- For the immediate future, mass unemployment won’t take place but the work that’s left will transform dramatically.
- To get and retain a job, human work will need to be complementary to the work that machines do.
- Automation will not happen overnight but it will happen.