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Berkonomics

Are you at risk for tech killing your job?

Stop me if you’ve heard this story before.

“My job as a (newspaper publisher telephone installer, stockbroker, travel agent, retail store manager) writer, poet, commercial artist – is safe as this economy continues to grow.”  Yup. Thought so.

We are in a decade of creative destruction that will affect most everybody. 

And the prime motivators of this massive destruction are the same class of entrepreneurs and innovators that have done it before.  This time they are aided by tail winds brought on by the rapid spread of access to the Internet and AI.  Generative AI applications are moving so fast that two applications (ChatGPT and Midjourney) in November, 2022 are now hundreds of applications, many focused upon your particular niche.

 And now everyone has access.

Consider this bit of recent history:  In 1995, thirty-five million people used the Internet. That is six-tenths of one percent of the world’s population.  And only one percent of these who had access also had mobile phones.

Consider the numbers.

[Email readers, continue here…]   By 2024, at least ninety percent of the global population will have regular Internet access.  Add that to the rise of robotics, artificial intelligence, biotech, genetics, augmented and virtual reality, and we will soon see wonders we could only imagine a decade ago.  Meanwhile, in the U.S., an estimated five million jobs will be lost to tech innovations in the next five years, with two million new jobs created in these fields alone.

And then there is robotics.

Robots will perform half of all manufacturing jobs by 2025.  Since 1999, the U.S. manufacturing workforce is down twenty-eight percent, and the U.S. has lost 54,000 manufacturing businesses.  In 1980, it took twenty-five jobs to produce a million dollars in manufacturing output. Today, that can be done with fewer than seven jobs.

Yes, Amazon is partially to blame. 

Last year, Amazon employed 1,541,000 workers. But Amazon displaced at least that number of retail jobs.  Just check your local store fronts.

Higher education needs to catch up.

Our current graduating class of college seniors reflects much of the past needs of our economic society, just as they did in the early 1970’s, when many bet that aerospace jobs would continue to be the hot job ticket.  The mismatch between what employers want today and graduating seniors majored in is striking.  For example, 81% of businesses hiring today want graduates with business or accounting degrees. But only 19% of seniors have majored in this.  Worse, 3.1% of seniors majored in computer science, while 65% of businesses looking to hire need these skills.  And yet, with the rise of AI creating code, we don’t yet know how this will affect the need for new program coders, and shift that educational need to code architects, prompters and testers.

And how about the new jobs to be created for “prompt-masters” and others manipulating or analyzing or checking AI query results.  How will college professors or newspaper editors know that content submitted is or should be original?  And Ai is now writing computer code in many languages.  Programmers or program architects (prompt-masters again) for this next generation of low code-no code?

Predictable work is highest on the chopping block.

What general kinds of jobs will be lost to automation?  Almost eighty percent of jobs performing predictable physical work will be gone.  People in welding, soldering, working on assembly lines, food preparation or packaging of objects will be most at risk.  Then come the unpredictable physical workers.  Twenty-five percent of these will be gone, including jobs in construction, forestry and raising outdoor animals.

White- collar jobs most at risk to the rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning are those in middle management, commodity salespeople, journalists, report writers, and even some doctors.

What jobs will be safe?

And the last jobs to be lost to automation and AI are, not surprisingly, K-12 teachers, professional athletes, politicians, judges, mental health professionals and coaches, advisors and motivators.

Tech entrepreneurs are out there in every corner of the world today finding ways to eradicate disease, provide clean water, change the way we deliver education, fight obesity and climate change, and reduce accidental deaths.  These heroes of the next generation are remaking our lives at hyper-speed.

Old jobs – new jobs

So, will tech take your job, or your offspring’s job or your grandkid’s job?  Old jobs will be gone for sure.  But that same villain, tech, will prove to be a creator of jobs we can’t even imagine today, and will improve the quality of our lives immeasurably at the same time.

These are times to celebrate innovation and trust that, like many eras in the past, the world will be a better place in which to live and work because of their world-changing innovations.

  • Hey Dave,

    We do wish you well from our outpost of civilization in the neo-tropics. You too Bob, it was always a pleasure sitting in a conference room with minds that challenged us all to think outside our little boxes.

    Like everyone I’ve been playing with AI and for the average Joe the AI’s are confusing and not very good. The idea of “prompt masters” which will likely have a half-life of about 6 minutes is just an example of a half baked technology. The fact that AI’s regularly do acid trips and halucinate responses that a 10 year old can see through is another. Such “tripping” undermines the good results.

    Though it may not be ready, I wonder in awe at how steathily Microsoft got a tired old Bing browser onto my desktop a few weeks ago (me and a few million others who had sworn off crappy MS browsers after the Netscape wars of what seems like generations ago). Bing with AI is pretty annoying (it completely refuses to engage in healthy debate particularly when I call it an idiot) but the writing is on the wall (that we didn’t write this time) as you point out for all kinds of jobs and the way we all operate and how we use tech.

    We get all kinds of people at the breakfast table of the Pura Vida Hotel – and we learn new things every day. 2 married deep space physicists from Los Alamos searching for dark matter (can you imagine their dinner conversation!), a NASA scientist working on the Space Station (no not this one, the next one which wont have a Russian docking facility), the first molecular biologist working on cracking the human genome years ago and many others.

    One couple really stood out for me recently, professors at a well respected east coast US university (where a large number of students were killed with semi-automatic weapons some years ago). We were mutually bemoaning the confusion of their students in dealing with the AI change when they told me they had just received a directive from on high at the University. It was simply (and IMHO refreshingly) “embrace the technology!”. They explained to me that they had absolutely no idea what to do next but does it matter? Like the Ukranian people they are following a fearless leader, they were smart people and I know they will figure it out and help this next generation of fearless lunatics “embrace the technology.” And google search will go the way of buggy whips 🙂
    Berni in Costa Rica

  • Bob Kelley, Business Model Designer

    Where did the 95% of Americans who worked in agriculture in the US, as we moved into the 20th century, find higher value & higher paying jobs. Why did the Twenties Roar? Why were the post war years ’45- ’62 so spectacular in job creation? (Manufacturing and Distribution!) And then there was the long ’83- ’07 boom (Technology Services, and lots more Other Services!) I’ll bet you’ll help us find the “Silver Linings” in the clouds you describe above in your posting.

    But there is much more silver to be had in the large scale development of high value services, high value entertainment, and high value fashion. And, of course, this silver will flow to the high value consultants, trainers, educators and coaches who will get the rest of us there. How will we find these opportunities? How fast will this happen? I’ll bet it’ll be exponentially faster than the industries that have grown up around the “Smart Phones” since the 2007 launch of the iPhone. Dave, you do know much about these opportunities. As a Super Angel, you’ve facilitated the coming to fruition of many of them.
    I’ll also bet you’ll soon address these opportunities, many enabled by the “AI Exo-brains” that have now transitioned us, just like the “Smart Phone”, and its “apps” did in the last 16 years, but at an exponentially faster pace.

    I also will bet that you’ll help us to use these new exponentially faster growing “AI Exo-brains” as a means to zero in on these opportunities, and quickly prepare for them.

    Thank you, Dave!

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