Finding it hard to find even the most basic of jobs these days? Blame it on the robots then, says MIT economist, David Autor. In his (working) Spring paper, Autor conducted a study into the effect of rising technological advances on low- and high-skilled jobs. He found that robots were replacing humans where there were more routine tasks involved, such as in manufacturing, banking, or medicine.
His findings have been discussed in Good Magazine, which believes that jobs for the middle class and well-educated workers have been slowly disappearing since the 70s, and put it bluntly: “The hard truth… is that the middle class is disappearing in large part because technology is rendering middle-class skills obsolete.”
Autor goes on to state that technology will slowly eat away at other work sectors, causing employers to need less uneducated and/or unskilled workers.
However, the study has some silver linings. Even though technology can replace some high-paying jobs, you’ll still need trained employees who know how to use the systems. Even on the production lines, there will need to be people on standby to fix machines that break down. Plus, the technology needs to be invented–and built–before they can be pushed out to trades.
There are also professions that can’t be automated, like law, journalism and business management, which could encourage people to aim for these sorts of jobs.
So could we be overreacting slightly? Our own homes are a prime example of how everything can’t be fully be left to robots to do. Sure, tech can fold our t-shirts or sync household products so you can take a few shortcuts in your day, but still these require some user input, and there are tasks that robots just can’t perform.
Technology has created jobs as well as taken jobs, but this doesn’t mean necessarily it should be given the total blame for lack of jobs in the US. As The Economist says, maybe technological advances could encourage children to stay in school. And remember that there is still a recession hanging over–which has also had an impact on robots this year. Whatever the future, there will still be room for both humans and robots to work in harmony together.