Replacing jobs with technology

Date posted: November 14, 2013

A recent economic report said almost half of all current jobs could be replaced by technology in the future. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden explains the reasoning and the implications.

“When I read that report, I was absolutely amazed to think that almost half, in fact the report said 47 percent, of current jobs could be gone in the future, because machines are doing those jobs rather than people. I mean, that was absolutely mindboggling to me.

“And, of course, this is all prompted by the dramatic increase in technology in the workplace. And really, up to now, what we’ve seen … is technology being able to replace routine-oriented jobs, where, for example, think of an assembly line, where someone is putting a cap on a bottle. Well, obviously, that can now be done by a machine. So I think most people understand that kind of job replacement.

“But this report said that the potential for technology coming in and taking the place of people is really much more pervasive. It said, for example, in the future, most jobs in transportation, logistics, clerical work and, of course, those remaining jobs in factories could all be replaced by machines and technology. They even said, for example, university professors could be replaced by apps and computer simulations.

“So this is something I think that we really need to think about and be prepared for … the individual worker. I think the implication here is that people need to be aware that this trend is occurring, and they need to arm themselves with education, particularly education (that) allows them to be creative in order to protect themselves in the future.”

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