Tech Companies Destroy Jobs

“47% of total US employment is at risk of computerization in the next 20 years.”

— Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne

Whoa! That’s a big deal. Full report here. I’m usually skeptical when I see such big claims. This one seems pretty obvious though. Technology companies destroy jobs. That’s how they create value. Think about apps. Uber is eliminating your friendly neighborhood taxi dispatcher. Thousands of them. Software eats industries. Jobs disappear.

The authors say that only very creative and highly social jobs are safe. They predict two waves. First easy jobs (the taxi dispatcher) then, after a plateau and predicted leaps in Artificial Intelligence, harder ones (engineers).

What kind of society will we have when computers are doing work formerly done by half of the population? Will we remake ourselves into a new society less driven by work? Perhaps we will become more like our ancestors who worked relatively little in the agrarian age. How will this affect inequality?

I’m pretty sure there will be a big economic upheaval. The switch from farming to factories lead to the Depression. Moving out of factories and into services and information caused the Crisis.

At Vendo we’re creating much more value than just a few years ago. We didn’t need to add staff to do it. We built better technology. We’re now analyzing and acting on quantities of data that would literally be impossible for humans to process. For example, yesterday we performed and acted on 150,000 tests (and it was a Sunday, no one in the office). It wouldn’t matter how many people tried to do that volume of testing with manual intervention. They just couldn’t do it fast enough.

We don’t hire new people very often. Our latest hires (Welcome Victor and Miguel!) will be using our tools to perform superhuman feats. We see ourselves creating lots of value going forward…but jobs? Nope. The tools we build will eliminate jobs. It’s the same at every tech company.

The path seems pretty clear.

How should / could our society adapt to this new world? Drop in the comment section to share your thoughts on what our society will look like 20 years from now.

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