Yes, a Computer Will Take Your Job. Can We Handle the Transition to a Jobless Future?

With the unemployment rate falling to 5.3 percent, the lowest in seven years, policy makers are heaving a sigh of relief. Indeed, with the technology boom in progress, there is a lot to be optimistic about. Manufacturing will be returning to U.S. shores with robots doing the job of Chinese workers; American carmakers will be mass-producing self-driving electric vehicles; technology companies will develop medical devices that greatly improve health and longevity; we will have unlimited clean energy and 3D-print our daily needs. The cost of all these things will plummet and make it possible to provide for the basic needs of every human being.

I am talking about technology advances that are happening now, which will bear fruit in the 2020s.

But policy makers will have a big new problem to deal with: the disappearance of human jobs. Not only will there be fewer jobs for people doing manual work, but the jobs of knowledge workers will also be replaced by computers. Almost every industry and profession will be impacted, and this will create a new set of social problems — because most people can’t adapt to such dramatic change.

If we can develop the economic structures necessary to distribute the prosperity we are creating, most people will no longer have to work to sustain themselves. They will be free to pursue other creative endeavors. The problem, however, is that without jobs, they will not have the dignity, social engagement and sense of fulfillment that comes from work. The life, liberty and pursuit of happiness that the Constitution entitles us to won’t be through labor; it will have to be through other means.

It is imperative that we understand the changes that are happening and find ways to cushion the —> Read More