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How Automation Will End Work as We Know It.

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The world is currently going through the fourth industrial revolution. The advent of artificial intelligence, 5G, self driving cars, 3d printing and several other technoligies is leading the world into a new area that will completely change the way we live. One of the key consequences of this revolution will be automation. Everything from manual labour and service jobs to intellectual professions are at risk of being replaced by machines. A study by McKinsey suggests that 50% of all jobs are at risk of being automated, and that is simply going by current technologies and not the advancements that are yet to come.

We have had machines take over jobs ever since the first industrial revolution. Less people were required to work manual labour jobs as machines were able to do several tasks. It is often argued that since past revolutions created many new jobs as well, the same will happen in the current revolution. However, there is a key difference. In the past, the industrial revolutions got rid of labour jobs but not intellectual ones. Human strength may have lost value in comparison to machines, but human intellect was still needed. Hence why the past century has seen a huge push in making sure everyone is well educated. More and more people are obtaining Bachelors, Masters degrees and even beyond, as it has been widely accepted that the intellect of humans is their best skill that creates value.


The current revolution is aiming to change this as it aims to automate intellegence itself, as is the aim of artificial intelligence. For example, the creation of cars in the past would have created a loss in manual labour jobs, as cars could now transport goods and people with little human effort. However, the human intellect was still required to operate and handle a car so a new job was created. Today, with the advent of self driving cars, this job will also be automated but this time no new one is being created.

It's not only these simple service jobs at risk. White collar jobs risk automation too. Artificial intelligence is getting better at the role of doctors, administraters, accountants and even coders. The speed at which these jobs are automated will be rapid, as unlike labour work, there isn't much sophisticated hardware required to automate intelligence. Once the intellegent tools are there, they can easily be adopted in mass in already existing IT systems. All it takes is for the application to be installed and purchased if required. Companies will have little hesitation in getting rid of high paying jobs.

Once human intellect is no longer needed, how do people find work? The answer is that humans can still generate value with their creativity, consience, social skills and humanity. These things can not be automated anytime soon hence we are seeing a sharp rise in the amount of people making money through creative content and social services, specially online. Jobs like caretakers for the elderly and children are also not going to be replaced by robots due to the amount of human conscience required to deal with such things. However, this doesn't mean there won't be competition here too. Machines are even becoming good at creating stories, music and playing games.


As we head into this unpredictable new era we can expect rapid changes in the way we live. Due to automation and lack of jobs, it is highly likely that the governments will be forced to introduce a Universal Basic Income. UBI is when every citizen recieves a guaranteed monthly payment. The increased productivity due to automation will need to be matched with more demand from consumers as well, and for that the citizens will need to have money. Thus it will be in everyone's interest to introduce such a basic income. It is possible that this will be funded by taxing the owners of large corporations who have control over the highly productive technology. A "Robot tax" is often discussed. At the end of the day, every technological revolution has created great benefits for humanity and there is no reason to assume this won't be the same.

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