It’s easy to spot signs of desperation in people’s eyes. With unemployment rates at persistently high levels and young people unable to find jobs from one year to the next, we have become a society seething with anxiety.
I often get asked if we are headed into an era of 50% unemployment because we’ve automated all of the jobs out of existence. There are two parts to the answer.
Every time we download one of dozens of “level apps” on our smartphone, we eliminate the need to own this tool. Levels have traditionally been a tool made of metal with a small elliptical-shaped glass tube for accurately measuring horizontal balance. But the app is far easier. It eliminates the need to produce the metal and glass components, assemble and package the product, ship components halfway around the world, and retail stores no longer need to carry this line of products.
So yes, we are automating tons of jobs out of existence and we will continue to do so. Every downloadable app has the potential of eliminating small fractional jobs. But cumulatively, this amounts to millions of positions around the world.
The second part of the question, however, is a bit more complicated. “Have we simply run out of work?” And the answer is, of course not!
In fact, we will never run out of work. But there aren’t always jobs associated with the work that needs to be done. And that’s where we find ourselves today – plenty of work, not enough jobs.
Here are some thoughts on how we can escape the downward employment spiral and 24 future industries that will lead to an era of super employment!