Automation has totally eliminated just one job since 1950
Automation often replaces human labor, but very rarely in the last sixty years has it eliminated an entire occupation. Only one of the 270 detailed occupations listed in the 1950 US Census has since been eliminated by automation, according to a working paper by Harvard economist James Bessen. While the government has removed other occupations from the Census due to factors like lack of demand and technological obsolescence, only elevator operators owe their occupation’s demise mostly to automation, Bessen found. The pattern of the last 60 years is likely to continue. Though almost all of today’s jobs have some aspect that can be automated by current technology, very few jobs can be entirely automated, according to a recent McKinsey analysis. “This distinction is important because it implies very different economic outcomes,” Bessen wrote in a column last year. “If a job is completely automated, then automation necessarily reduces employment. But if a job is only partially automated, employment might actually increase.” This is what happened when weaving technology advanced during the Industrial Revolution, for instance. The price of cloth dropped, more people bought cloth, and factories hired more people to keep up with demand-even though each worker could, with the help of machines, be much more productive. For some products and services, falling prices won’t create more jobs, because falling prices won’t increase demand. Then there’s always the argument that modern technology is advancing so quickly that nothing about how the economy has adapted to new technologies in the past is relevant. In any case, in the story of automation and jobs, elevator operators really got shafted. Read next: The optimist’s guide to the robot apocalypse.
These Tech Jobs Will Probably Be Safe From Automation Well Into The 2040s
Which tech jobs are safe from automation until at least 2045? originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. If they can give you a step-by-step explanation of their job, with no intangibles or other ambiguities that cannot be specified precisely, then it’s likely that someday in the not-so-distant future some entrepreneur will find a way to automate it. In general, jobs that rely on problem solving, creativity, research, design, and interpersonal skills are less likely to be automated than those with well-defined steps to perform each day. Now for the obligatory caveat for the singularity alarmists. Years ago I wasn’t even born, so it’s pretty much impossible to extrapolate out for longer than I’ve been alive. Maybe some technological breakthrough will occur that makes all jobs obsolete. Maybe machine learning will become so creative, so good at solving all our problems, that we won’t need skilled technical people anymore. The thing is, people tend to make the mistake of assuming that because machine learning today is getting better and better at solving certain types of problems humans are good at solving, that it’s only a matter of time until it becomes more “Intelligent” than humans generally. What machine learning is good at doing is finding patterns and correlations in data, and acting on those patterns to make predictions. There’s no critical thinking, no logic or reasoning. This question originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
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The common sense way to buy industrial controls
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