The future of jobs: Working on being human

Basic Income Earth Network

Sadly, 33,000 Toys ‘R’ Us employees are about to be let go. They’ll pack that family vacation picture from their office wall in a brown cardboard box, take a toy or two for keepsakes, and, begrudgingly, go home. They will be joining a growing list of hundreds of thousands of people who are losing their jobs, not because they need to improve their performance or their work ethic, but simply because they are no longer needed.

More and more products are being manufactured using robots, which is more cost-effective for companies, as well as cheaper for consumers, who can order online with a swipe of a finger. Toys ’R’ Us is only one example of the virtual-technological tsunami that is washing over the business world. It appears in the form giant corporations such as Amazon, Alibaba, Google and their trade partners, trampling every area of commerce possible: retail, banking, clothing, food, advertising and more. This wave doesn’t stop at the private sector; it’s washing away the public sector as well. For instance, Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos and Damie James are already on a joint venture to reinvent healthcare.

While it may seem like a silent revolution, these changes promise a socio-economic earthquake the likes of which  humanity has never seen before. The virtual-technological future is gradually taking over the very foundations of the global economy.

It is becoming normal to talk about robots replacing human labor, but we still have not yet acknowledged the magnitude of this change. Many politicians, economists and analysts are seeing this as another industrial revolution that comes with labor pains, giving birth to a whole slew of new professions, and are predicting that a newly booming economy will emerge as a result.

Surely, this is an encouraging view, but it is based on a limited understanding of new technologies being developed at an exponential speed. Even today, we could automate 45% of the activities people are paid to perform in the U.S. with existing technologies.

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