Monday, January 22, 2018

How we will earn money without jobs? Will robots, enabled by quantum computing, take those jobs?

Three connected readings from last week.

1) Had a look at the TedTalk by Martin Ford which summarises his book - The rise of the robots: technology and the threat of a jobless future (2016).

The book summarises the challenges NOW and proposes ways to support workers through the transition. In short:
  • Jobs will be taken away
  • Jobs will change – new jobs created – see Today online for similar
  • jobs will become more interestin as robots remove the mundane, repetitive aspects
  • Jobs will disappear – e.g. horses at the turn of 1900.

There will be and already is an encroachment of machines on to things that make humans unique, including the ability to think, learn and create – some machines can now do these things.
Advances in technology now undergoing exponential change, increase in cognitive capability with an improvement on the ability to learn (e.g. winning at Go)
Proposes the result will be a  lose of jobs, stagnant wages and precarious job. However, the global economics hinges on consumerism / market, therefore, if no one has money then economies decline.
Rationalises basic income (UBI) as a solution to decouple work from income.
Basic income is not a panacea but a start. UBI needs to be followed up with incorporation of incentives into basic income so people still thrive to achieve social, individual, community and meaning and fulfilment in our lives. Therefore, it might be more politically acceptable if some differentiation allowed in basic income. 

2) Article last week in the NZ Herald on 'don't be afraid of robots taking your job'. 

Proposes, more automation = more opportunity to develop high-value service or products especially in relationship based services. Time saved in not having to do boring and routine tasks can be diverted to development of niche premium products; personalised services; ability to be nimble and adaptive to market changes and to be the disruptor, not the disrupted.
Encourages jobs in the trades, personalised assistance type roles and the importance of continually developing excellent communication and relationship-building skills.

Provides examples in retail of how above already being put in place. - American context. 
  • Robotic shopping carts – or no carts at all
  • Digital mirrors to visualise new outfits, lipstick, sunglasses etc,
  • Prices that change by the hour – digital tags on shelves
  • Technology to help you find better fitting shoes and coordinating outfits
  • Robots that restock shelves and guide you to what you need

3) Then a NY Times article providing a background and summary to quantum computing.
Proposes quantum computing to be well on its way, with use of quantum with ‘normal PC’ via cloud and processing speeds improve up to 100,000 faster than now.
Implications include the importance of ‘life long learning’ so everyone able to keep up with changes. Quote from article:
“Therefore, education needs to shift “from education as a content transfer to learning as a continuous process where the focused outcome is the ability to learn and adapt with agency as opposed to the transactional action of acquiring a set skill,” said McGowan
“Instructors/teachers move from guiding and accessing that transfer process to providing social and emotional support to the individual as they move into the role of driving their own continuous learning.”

All the articles concur there WILL be major impacts on how jobs are constituted. There needs to be leadership and direction from governments to cope with the coming social impacts. For individuals, it will be a time to ensure one does not keep one's head in the sand but to be aware of what is coming and to try to plan ahead. Individuals with the literacies and wherewithal to be flexible and continually able to keep up with shifts in the job market, will be the ones who will survive the coming challenges. 

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