Summary: News of the coming great extinction has the chattering classes agog with fear. But they’re (as usual) looking the wrong way. The rapid evolution of algorithms, software, and robots will make many kinds of jobs as extinct as the Great Auk. This will reshape the world into a wonderland — or unleash disastrous social turmoil. It’s up to us.
The Great Auk, last seen 1852. Lots of jobs will go extinct, just as they did.
Yet another of these coordinated-looking propaganda barrages warn us of the danger. These are all from June 2015…
- WaPo: “Earth is on brink of a sixth mass extinction, scientists say, and it’s humans’ fault“.
- Newsweek: “Sixth Great Extinction Under Way, Scientists Say“.
- An over-the-top alarm from National Geographic: “Will Humans Survive the Sixth Great Extinction?“.
These headlines are correct, but about the wrong subject. They are exaggerated speculation based on false claims about damage to the biosphere (e.g., 30 thousand species going extinct each year). The coming great extinction is of jobs. The drumbeat of automated has become background in the news, the unnoticed washing away of the foundation to American society. When it is seen, the job losses are often attributed to corporate oligarchies, free trade, or massive immigration.
It has just begun. To more clearly see this trend I recommend following the few experts charting the path to this new world. Such as Martin Ford.
Traditionally, robots have been in factories, but I think that over the next 10 to 20 years, automation in the form of robots, smart software and machine learning is really going to invade pretty much across the board. It’s going to start impacting jobs at all skill levels. It’s not just going to be about low-wage people who don’t have lots of education. It’s really starting to impact also professional jobs.
… we’re in the midst of a transition where in the past, machines have always been tools that have been used by people and made those people more productive, but increasingly, the technology is really becoming a replacement or a substitute for more and more workers. That’s going to be a huge issue over the coming decade.