There is rising concern about how quickly automation is replacing human jobs – this process is occurring much faster than anyone ever imagined.

The automation of factories has already caused significant decline in jobs in manufacturing and many believe the rise of artificial intelligence is likely to extend the job losses into other sectors and middle income earners with ‘only the most caring creative or supervisor roles remaining’ – Stephen Hawking.

Elon Musk spoke at the recent World Government Summit in Dubai, ‘What to do about mass unemployment? He said ‘This is going to be a massive social challenge. There will be fewer and fewer jobs that a robot cannot do better [than a human]. These are not things that I wish will happen. These are simply things that I think probably will happen.’

Bill Gates has proposed that governments start taxing robot workers the same way we tax human workers. ‘You cross the threshold of job-replacement of certain activities all sort of at once. So, you know, warehouse work, driving, room clean-up, there’s quite a few things that are meaningful job categories that, certainly in the next 20 years [will go away].’

Policy makers were largely ignored when two Oxford economists suggested, in 2013, that 45% of all US jobs could be automated away within the next 20 years – today that sounds all but inevitable.

At present in the US, there are 600,000 Uber drivers, 181,000 taxi drivers, 168,000 transit bus drivers, 505,000 school bus drivers, and around 1,000,000 truck drivers. Uber has recently bought a self-driving truck company – if a one-time US$40,000 truck retrofit can replace a US$40,000 per year human truck driver, there will soon be a million truckers out of work.

It’s not just drivers being replaced, soon entire warehouses will be fully automated. Amazon is testing a store with virtually no employees, you walk in, select what you want, and walk out. Japan has been automating features of its restaurants for decades – taking orders, serving food, washing dishes, and even some food preparation. There is now a company in the US that makes delivery trucks that drive around and start baking pizzas in real time as orders come in.

For more information on automation in the workforce, read the full article