Chronic Underemployment and 20/20 Hindsight

Cardiff Garcia at FTAlphaville just posted a commentary worth reading, “The History of the Robot Future’s Future History,” about shrinking U.S. middle class employment levels. The article is a good analysis of why we have so much uncertainty about just how automation will change the dynamics of employment, and why hearkening to industrial revolution trends is both misinformed and incapable of helping us future fact from science fiction.   When you look at the Figure 2 job categories, notice that the ones increasing in employment levels include “Technician” and “Food preparation.” This is worth a look because robotic automation doesn’t simply make operation and production ever more automation-efficient, furthering humans from useful large-scale roles there; robotics also extends the leading edge of just what activities robots can outcompete humans on in terms of cost and ROI. Technician and food preparation activities are examples where the leading edge will change the power relationship between robots and humans as robots achieve greater competency in reasoning, computer vision and manipulation. That is coming, like it or not.  Well worth a read.

One thought on “Chronic Underemployment and 20/20 Hindsight

  1. Randy

    The graph at the top of the page is quite powerful in demonstrating the loss of middle class jobs. it would be great to combine that chart with something that shows the downward pressures on salary.


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