Thu, May 23, 2013 - Page 9 News List

Will there be any jobs left for humans?

Throughout history, economic upheavals have destroyed whole industries — and created new ones. However, some fear automation may signal the death of mass employment

By Will Hutton  /  The Observer, LONDON

The second is in human wellbeing. There will be vast growth in advising, coaching, caring, mentoring, doctoring, nursing, teaching and generally enhancing capabilities. Medical provision will explode, with replacement organs, skin and limbs opening up new specializations and industries. Taste, sight and hearing will be vastly enhanced. Aging will be deferred, with old-age advisers offering advice on how to live well in one’s hundreds. Geneticists will open up a live-well economy. Instantaneous language translation will break down language barriers.

The third is in addressing the globe’s “wicked issues.” There will be new forms of nutrition and carbon-efficient energy, along with economizing with water, to meet the demands of a world population of 9 billion in 2050. Space exploration will become crucial to find new minerals and energy sources. New forms of mining will allow exploration of the Earth’s crust. The oceans will be farmed.

And fourth, digital and big data management will foster whole new industries — personalized journalism, social media, cybersecurity, information selection, software, computer science and digital clutter removal.

Doubtless the futurologists can come up with more: The truth is, nobody knows. What we do know is that two-thirds of what we consume today was not invented 25 years ago. It will be the same again in a generation’s time. What is different is the pace of change, obsolescence and renewal — and new dangers of extraordinary inequality not just in wages, but in working possibilities. Firms and individuals will be on their mettle to open up, innovate and constantly reinvent themselves.

If there is to be a successful Great Reset, Britain will need the open innovation structures, financing mechanisms and social support institutions to capitalize on the opportunities quickly, rather than be overwhelmed by the risks.

This is what threatens our future, our living standards, and this is what we should be arguing about. Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.

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