Updated: May 21, 2020
There has been a terrific rise in artificial intelligence (AI) leading to the automation of many jobs and loss of employment. Technology and AI are not new, the industrial revolution started the automation of jobs and this continues.
Governments, and in particular social structures, need to change to take account of the projected loss of jobs. This change will also mean a loss in tax revenue. The benefit system will need an overhaul and humans will have to adapt their behaviour to compensate for the loss of work and job opportunities. Automation and AI will not only replace blue collar workers but managerial and clerical workers too. The 50-plus age group has lost many jobs because of automation and younger workers who have different skill sets.
Over 50s in the new economy have an opportunity to become entrepreneurs and show their creativity. Perhaps this current coronavirus lockdown is giving a preview of what is to come and how we would behave if we didn’t have work and had to stay home with more time to think and create. This can lead the way to a new world where we care more about each other. Futurists predict more dependency on the government and a more equal sharing of resources.
The idea of a universal basic income (UBI) begins to make more sense when seen as a safety net which is required as people transition to a new life. The number of people will increase but the need to eat, have homes and travel does not. During this time of transition while the robots are working, organising and distributing food supplies, they need an income. Will governments bring in rules to limit the number of babies being born to help reduce the numbers who need fed and housed with no likelihood of working?
Maybe we will become a more creative society? While regular jobs will disappear there is likely to be a need for more computer specialists and engineers. Seniors could do computer work at home for example. Futurists have suggested there will be increased demand for softer skills, such as persuasion and caregiving- emotive skills that many seniors have in abundance- and in which seniors could take the lead.
UNESCO says 70 million teachers are likely to be recruited to achieve the goal of universal primary and secondary education by 2030 even though robots will be delivering most of the education throughout the world. The question is whether we should train robots to teach when there would be a lack of jobs for humans?
This is a great opportunity for people who are 50-plus. Getting involved with vocational teaching, sharing experiences, and looking at ways to help younger people adapt to the new societal role that will be expected of them could help people who are 50 plus feel a bigger part of society. If programmed correctly, A1 systems and technology could stop the inequality in the world and even out the disparity between those who have and those who do not. Let’s make sure this happens.
Photo: by Carole Railton (copyright) "Conventional jobs are lost to AI".