Well, there has been a short interruption in The Michelle Bakery daily delivery as a result of moving house, town, and country over this weekend. Not quite there but the removal vans are, so almost.
I have been thinking a lot over the weekend about the future of work. As I scrubbed down the inside of oven pans in preparation for handovers, I speculated on where automation is going to take us. According to Andrew Yang, a 2020 Democratic US president hopeful, nowhere good. He, like Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee are of the (US-skewed) opinion that the automation of various jobs is going to be a catastrophe for society.
I am afraid I agree.
Working in procurement, I can see the allure of a machine instead of a human in dollar terms: cheaper to run, shorter payback times, no HR issues, no health and safety concerns, higher efficiency, round the clock productivity, and so on. And, short term, most profit-motivated entities will have to take this option to deal with the demands of investors to be more profitable.
This will displace many, many workers.
Foxconn, for example, has been an early adopter of automation in their manufacturing plants and, having axed 60 000 jobs in 2016, announced 10 000 jobs to go in a subsidiary that makes screens. This will be what all manufacturing entities will have to copy to remain competitive. The logistics industry, likewise, will be looking to autonomous transportation as the means to lower their cost bases.
Medium term, things will stabilise, new roles will emerge (fixing robots, repairing autonomous vehicles, etc) but, short term, I think things could get ugly. Considering if you are in a risky occupation and planning an escape strategy might be something the prudent person did right now. I think there’s about 5-10 years left to make the switch.