By Mike Wilcox
Month after month we are treated to amazing job creation numbers. Despite the government shutdown, 304,000 jobs were added in January. That’s about double what economists predicted.
Similar numbers were rec- orded for most months in 2018. Some experts indicate the economy is roaring like a freight train with no end in sight.
Forgive me, however, if I see in my crystal ball an engine derailing and the economy coming to a grinding halt. On the horizon is Artificial Intelligence, or AI. I fear many jobs we are creating today will be held by robots in 20 or maybe even 10 years.
Our concerns in the near future will not be illegals invading our country and taking jobs. It will not be demands for a higher and higher minimum wage. Neither will be a topic once robots take many of our jobs.
We cannot afford to ignore the coming AI revolution. Modern society is predicated on people working. If they are forced to the sidelines, all kinds of sociological changes, few for the better, will occur.
Already robots have transformed industrial manufacturing. They can learn and make judgment calls like humans, including driving cars, trading stocks and doing accounting with greater accuracy than humans.
With their ability to think and make judgments, AI robots will not only replace many factory, food service and driving tasks but professional jobs as well. Robots are expected to make accountants, lawyers and even surgeons redundant.
Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen claims half the colleges and universities in the U.S. will close in the next couple decades because robots will replace professors and, frankly, will be better at teaching our children. We already see the cadre of online schools and courses that are very popular.
A report from global management consulting firm McKinsey said that 50 percent of current work activities are automatable by technologies that have already proven effective. It expects that 400 to 800 million workers will be displaced by robots in the next 12 years.
This serious stuff is going to be on us before we know it. Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk says it is the greatest challenge we face as a society. Do we want AI to control our world?
I think the answer is obvious, but we have to plan for controls now and I don’t hear any of our world leaders talking about it.
What was once science fiction is now reality. The 1960s television show ‘The Jetsons” is closer to the truth than fiction.
As a society we need to prepare for the coming AI revolution. We need to implement strategies to retrain our workforce. Jobs that are redundant in nature will no longer be available, thus a good share of the workforce will be either jobless or seeking work in the job sector where AI cannot be utilized.
I fear what will happen if we don’t prepare now. Can you imagine a society where half the workforce is unemployed?
Changes are coming faster than we could expect. Let’s hope our leaders and schools corral this monster called AI before it ruins our society as we know it.