Almost every science fiction movie of the last ten years has referenced or focused on the concept of labor becoming obsolete. Instead, jobs and activities that used to be controlled and completed by humans will be passed onto software, machinery, and robotics. There was a time when we believed that this future would never come to pass. Yet, it’s becoming clear we are moving slowly towards it. Indeed, Elon Musk has suggested that the labor market as we know it could come to an end by 2030. It seems that we may well be at the beginning of the end for job security. Many people have even suggested that due to this shift we are going to need a permanent income for everyone. It might seem like the rise of the machines is still quite some years away but are there already signs of this now. And, what impact has it had on the workplace?
The first sign of this new future is the rise of automation. It’s everywhere you look, present in most industries. It’s become particularly important in the role of customers service. These days it’s quite rare for businesses to hire a full team of staff to answer the calls. Instead, they use a telephone answering service. It’s cheaper and cuts the overhead costs for the company right down without the business owner even having to try. If you ring up a customer service hotline this year, it’s likely that you will be greeted with a form of software such as this. You might speak to an employee eventually, but you’ll pass through a string of automated processes first. Is it the only area where automation has become more relevant?
No, automation has even entered creative industries too. Developers have quietly been shopping around software that can write screenplays, songs, and music from scratch. It does this by running millions of different piece of popular media, analyzing them and then printing out what will be successful and popular. It’s quite possible that the next mega-blockbuster won’t have a writer behind it but a single piece of software.
There has certainly been evidence of machines replacing employees, and this has been happening for quite some time. The most recent report of this emerged from the fast food and restaurant industry. It emerged that many popular food services in America are now using robotics to make and cook the food. It was also widely reported that several fast food outlets were considering introducing robotics to service it. It is unclear how far away this development is. But anyone who has ever worked in Mcdonalds will tell you it’s not as crazy as it sounds.
Of course, the major benefit here will be for business owners. A business world without labor costs would be a remarkable place. One that would make it even easier for new company owners to start up their business. Arguably this will be beneficial as it’s clear that won’t be as many options working for someone else in the future.