The Future Of Work - Redux

Why Aren’t People Truthful?

The ‘Next Big Future’ writes “The future of work is you with a computer, not you replaced by a computer.” Really? While I appreciate this kind of argument, I do feel that we continue to not be honest with what is going on. If someone’s job can be 50% automated - then they are only needed half time. And … if I was a corporation, where the raison d’être is to maximise shareholder value, I would also know that people costs are the highest costs I have. So, if I can automate 50% of someone’s role - I have a choice

  • Continue to pay that person at the same rate plus the costs of the robot and have them do half the work. - yeah - right!
  • Continue to pay that person at the same rate - but tell them they are not needed for half the week - every week going forward - so saving 50% of that salary
  • Get rid of that person and have someone else do the two half jobs as a full time job - so saving 1 person’s salary
  • Train that person to do work that you have already identified that is important, but not being done. - If it is so important - why isn’t it being done already?

I understand the bigger picture - I really do - there will be new kinds of jobs emerging and a whole new set of opportunities for people to make their own …. coders, analysts, security wonks ….  but if you are a 35 year old truck driver, and your job is going away before you hit 45 through autonomous trucks - then the chances are that if you wanted to do something like that AND had the aptitude - then (s)he would be already. [wd_hustle id=“post-prompt”] The fact is that the nature of jobs in the future are likely to be very different to what we are training and educating people for today.  Where is that discussion? And will we really need as many human coders, security consultants, analysts, bot developers etc as we have burger flippers, truck drivers, cab drivers, waiters, garbage workers, gardeners …. as we have today? Remember, the number of people employed by Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft combined is less today than General Motors in 1955. To be precise 60% of GM’s 1955 number and about the same as all of GE today.  And yes - outsourcing / ‘consulting’ / ‘contractors’ and the virtual company will definitely up those numbers … but not in a way that upsets the basis argument. At least - that is what I think. What do you think? EMail John Philpin with your thoughts. I would like to expand on this one day.

July 26, 2017