Robots Will Eliminate 5 Million Jobs, STEM Unaffected

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I think it’s actually going to be more by 2020, but the writer thinks STEM related fields will have gains. Robots need people who need robots who need people.

“Administrative and office jobs will account for two-thirds of the losses, with “routine white-collar office functions at risk of being decimated,” and there will be gains in computer, mathematical, architecture and engineering-related fields. Women will be disproportionately hit by the changes because of their low participation in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

Personally I LOVE that picture. Our local fast food can’t get an order right… ever! Well maybe once out of every ten orders. It’s become somewhat of a joke in our house. We drive around and get back in line to check the contents assuming we will have to go back around. Once my wife received a fish sandwich with no fish! How does that even happen?

I love hearing about the min wage demands. It will only server to quicken an automated fast food assembly line. I’m wiling to bet that then my order will be correct.

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Yeah, I think it will be a lot worse than that, too (with losses caused by more than mere automation).

Dan Pink wrote a book that deals with this topic several years ago, but he argues that it’s not necessarily the STEM fields that will grow, but resilient creative fields. I tend to agree. Info here:

Slap me if I’m getting too philosophical/political here, but during my morning bike ride I was thinking about this exact same thing. We’ve become so good at demanding perfection from others, that we are losing patience with each other as humans for not being fast enough, accurate enough, smart enough, adaptable enough, creative enough, predictable enough. Our expectations of others are influenced by what technology is able to provide us (convenience, speed, cost, etc.)

My short stint in project management led me to believe the role really was nothing more than herding cats. The daily frustration of getting everyone on the same page, following through, understanding what the heck each of us said, and following through on action items. It was draining sometimes and yet many times I had to take a step back and ask myself if the problem really was others, or my attitude/patience with the process and the team members involved.

My realization that no, I am not a machine, and therefore will never be able to provide others with what emerging technology is providing them, has me wondering what approach to take going forward. It will be interesting to see how things play out in the future.

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Great insight, Bruce. I think when we crown efficiency as king, the things that suffer as a result are often yet unknown–but play out over a long period of time afterward. Community, civility, compassion, and love aren’t terribly “efficient” things in the world, but essential to humanity.

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Personally I see this as no different than the industrial revolution. Steam power and the assembly line, alone replaced countless workers at the time. And with steam power came many other machines that produced more consistent work, better tolerances, and increased production all with fewer workers.

What people continue to miss is the number of jobs created in the process. Entire automation design firms with factories building said automation lines. People who will install, maintain, repair, and monitor these machines. So as the article states 5 million will be eliminated but how many will be created in the process? This reads like 5 million people will one day be dumped out on the street. When in fact millions of other jobs will end up being created in the process. And many of them will be created before the elimination of others not after.

And finally, this is not a new thing. I worked at a factory 20 years ago that had welding robots. Was that not “robots eliminating jobs” 20 years ago?

Lately I have been to several factories with automated fork trucks/carts. These are increasing productivity of those depending on them while at the same time increasing safety in the shop. However some drivers have been replaced in the process.
Bottom line: If a company can produce a product better, for less money, why would it not? As for workers demanding more pay and better benefits, at some point they cross the line to where it makes financial sense to switch over to a different form of cheaper production. I think that is simply called management in any business. Management must continue to find the best way to increase profits, production, safety, ect. or risk losing their jobs as well.

Meanwhile at Mercedes…


I just read a post in my Feedly reader about that yesterday afternoon. More workers and more robots that are smaller and work alongside the workers.

“Feeling unwanted and rejected, a large majority of robots have set their sites on inhabiting the outer planets, becoming the pioneers of our galaxy.”


Robot counseling will be the next big job market.

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Already in full swing over at IBM:

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