The Future of Work

In the not too distant future, we will all be out of work! Scary thought, but it’s true. Machines are taking over all the menial task already. Cars are mostly made by robots, and have been for many years. This is true of many manufacturing processes. Supermarket are employing fewer checkout staff as the checkout process has been automated. Banks are employing fewer tellers as most customers now use ATM’s to withdraw and deposit funds. Companies are making many of their processes like accounting more streamlined.

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Staff are by far the most expensive cost centre for many companies and many companies are contracting out much of their non-essential non-core processes which can’t be automated. This leads to less job security for many.

And things are only going to get worse as artificial intelligence takes over more and more high level functions. Driver-less  cars, busses and trucks will mean no more truck drivers, taxi drivers and buss drivers. According to a news article, Uber recently placed an order for 2000 driver-less cars. They will not be the only company to be ordering driver-less cars. Any hire car or taxi company who fails to place their order will collapse and disappear. I doubt the individual will be able to purchase any kind of vehicle ten years from now, and maybe much sooner.

So, what will happen when we are ALL out of work!

I think this will be the next big paradigm shift for humanity.  Thousands of years ago we each fended for ourselves or formed small groups to find food and  resources to live. Then, hundreds of years ago, the industrial revolution meant people worked in factories to earn a living, which put power into the hands large companies and left the majority powerless.

We are still in the powerless mindset, thinking we have to get a good education in order to have a chance of getting a good job in order to have a decent lifestyle, or any kind of job and of course, this makes sense if the only way to earn a living is to work for others.

Time for a shift in thinking! If machines are putting everyone out of work and there are fewer and fewer ways the “earn” a living. then how are companies going to sell their products? They will have less and less customers. Unless money is given to everyone as a basic right. There is a movement afoot called “Unconditional Basic Income” (UBI) where everyone gets a basic amount in order to pay for their day-to-day living expenses.  No means testing, and everyone gets the same amount, unconditionally!

Sounds too good to be true? Well what are the alternatives? Companies are reducing costs in order to stay competitive and that usually means employing less people. But this means products and services are now getting cheaper and cheaper, again, because companies need to be competitive. The only real cost that is difficult to eliminate is energy. But what if that problem was solved? What if energy became free or very cheap? Then companies could manufacture products for next to nothing! Then a tax could be applied which would fund the UBI.   The details of how this will happen is the subject of much debate around the world.

So, what would life be like in this new era?  People no longer need to work in order to live and to feed their families.  People now have a choice!  Some would not do anything! but I think many would follow their own interests just for the fun or the challenge it presents.  Some would enjoy studying just for their own interest. Some would like to work with less fortunate people, as volunteers. Some would be artists. Some would climb mountains.

What would you do?  If my predictions do come true, how do you see yourself in the very near future?