Automation, artificial intelligence, robots and new technology are all terms that are creeping into everyday conversation more and more when discussing the future of the American workforce. But are these concepts really taking over everyday jobs?
Well, yes and no.
Although we wont really know the answer to this question these concepts are no longer concepts but overwhelming reality, we can begin to identify clear trends in this area of thought. There’s no question that technology can exponentially increase productivity. In a Harvard Business Review Journal article, Mark Muro and Scott Andes report that an International Federation of Robotics study of the use of industrial robots across 14 industries in 17 countries between 1993 and 2008 found that the use of robots within manufacturing raised the annual growth labor productivity and GDP by 0.36 and 0.37 percentage points, respectively. And even if you don’t understand this profound statistic in all its glory, it represents a substantial increase in overall GDP.
What does this mean for the American workforce? Many believe that there is a big change emerging in the type of work we will be doing in the future. The result of this economic change is most often referred to as the High-Touch Economy. High-touch jobs refer to those that require human face-to-face service or creativity. This is important because as we move toward more automation, we must, as a society identify the industries and services that simply cannot be automated. While most believe that areas related to art, design, and fashion are among these industries, others are up for debate. Industries that have begun to see technology automation but face resistance include healthcare, travel, and banking.
I'm curious to find out what others thoughts are on this topic, should this change the way we think about unemployment? Should this very topic change our education system in America? What do you think?