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375 Million Jobs May Be Automated By 2030, Study Suggests (cnn.com) 236

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNNMoney: The McKinsey Global Institute cautions that as many as 375 million workers will need to switch occupational categories by 2030 due to automation. The work most at risk of automation includes physical jobs in predictable environments, such as operating machinery or preparing fast food. Data collection and processing is also in the crosshairs, with implications for mortgage origination, paralegals, accounts and back-office processing. To remain viable, workers must embrace retraining in different fields. But governments and companies will need to help smooth what could be a rocky transition.

Despite the looming challenges, the report revealed how workers can move forward. While the introduction of the personal computer in the 1980s eliminated some jobs, it created many more roles. Workers who are willing to develop new skills should be able to find new jobs. The authors don't expect automation will displace jobs involving managing people, social interactions or applying expertise. Gardeners, plumbers, child and elder-care workers are among those facing less risk from automation.
The report says that 39 million to 73 million jobs in the U.S. could be destroyed, but about 20 million of those displaced workers can be shifted fairly easily into similar occupations. Globally, up to 800 million workers could be displaced.

375 Million Jobs May Be Automated By 2030, Study Suggests

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  • by Scarletdown ( 886459 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2017 @10:47PM (#55648215) Journal

    Now obviously that 375 million is worldwide. But to put that number into perspective, isn't the population of the U.S. around 325 million?

    • Don't worry! They've got the us covered...

      ...that 39 million to 73 million jobs in the U.S. could be destroyed, but about 20 million of those displaced workers can be shifted fairly easily into similar occupations.

      So, anywhere from 19 million to 53 million US jobs will NOT be able to be easily shifted. And US job training programs are just world renowned for.. yeah, can't even fake lie, our training programs are useless feel good projects. I'd say you can always work for Uber but they're automating too. Well, good luck! Hope all those mysterious unknown jobs that the optimists on /. talk about appearing from nowhere are willing to pay a living wage. (More likely you'l

      • More likely you'll get a gig job picking up groceries for some lazy ass who thinks a $1 tip is extravagant and probably detrimental to your work ethic.

        It is. Picking grocery's was never meant to be a living wage it's for kids and women to earn a little pin money.

        Thought I'd save cayenne8 the trouble...

      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        So, anywhere from 19 million to 53 million US jobs will NOT be able to be easily shifted. And US job training programs are just world renowned for.. yeah, can't even fake lie, our training programs are useless feel good projects.

        That's not just the US, it's pretty much everywhere. Thing is if we see huge shifts in automation like that where large parts of society can't find work, you'll either have to expand the safety net or change how the economy itself works. Or, you can always go another route. With FB, Google, Uber and so on pushing minicome and so on, simply tax them at 60-75% to pay for it. I'll bet that said automation will never happen then.

        Slightly to the topic of a living wage, wait for the $15/hr minimum wage to hit

  • Believe me (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 )

    The way we're going, by 2030 we may living in caves again.

    Maybe we can mine for clean coal while we're there.

    • The way we're going, by 2030 we may living in caves again.

      Sorry, we need those caves to store florgs.

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2017 @10:53PM (#55648219)

    This seems to happen every 50 years or so. OMG technology will take our jobs. Oh wait it took jobs that we didn’t want to do and it created a new market for more jobs.

    There use to be a job for the human computer who did calculations all day.
    We get the electric computer that replaced that job. However this meant more businesses could afford these computer causing a rise of software developers who had more jobs then the human computer had.

    Except for fighting the future, embrace it, it will mean you can be on the next big thing.

    • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2017 @11:13PM (#55648279)

      This seems to happen every 50 years or so. OMG technology will take our jobs.

      Considering that before the industrial revolution that almost everyone was a farmer, yes, it did take our jobs. Some people managed to survive by moving to cities but plenty of people didn't. I do write "survive" because the conditions they had to endure were horrid. It was a time of mass exploitation, death and hunger.

      It took a long time for us to pull ourselves out of that hole but now most people have slowly been pushed back in it. In addition to this we now have increasing levels of automation and the level of exploitation is going to continue rising sharply. If we do nothing to compensate prevent whole sale exploitation of the populous then we'll have a dramatic increase in levels of crime, violence and corruption.

      So yeah, color me a bit concerned for humanity.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        The times before the industrial revolution were worse. People moved to the cities because the jobs their beat starving as peasants in the country side. http://www.prb.org/Publication... [prb.org] Human population grew rapidly during the Industrial Revolution, not because the birth rate increased, but because the death rate began to fall. This mortality revolution began in the 1700s in Europe and spread to North America by the mid-1800s. Death rates fell as new farming and transportation technology expanded the fo
        • The times before the industrial revolution were worse. People moved to the cities because the jobs their beat starving as peasants in the country side.

          I'm not arguing that the industrial revolution was bad, I'm arguing it was no panacea. Technology has improved a lot of lives but that doesn't negate the exploitation that came with it as the result of a captive workforce.

        • The times before the industrial revolution may have been bad, but how is any of the things you mentioned related to job displacement? Also your causality is wacky. Industrialized cities have better public health and living standards *now*, but the transitional period during the IR from early modern cities to current industrialized cities was nasty. Why do you think Marx and Engels wrote their works around the time (and place) of Manchester's industrial boom? They saw what was happening there first hand.
      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        It took a long time for us to pull ourselves out of that hole but now most people have slowly been pushed back in it.

        Ask the people of Eastern Europe, China, India, South America and even though they still struggle also Africa if they'd like to turn back time 50 years. The biggest change technology has pushed on us has been globalism, where a ton of cheap workers flooded the market. Before there was like for every one rich American/Western European there were ten dirt poor people. If you looked at the wealth distribution of the world there was the first world, a big slump and then the third world. You could pay anyone fro

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        The first industrial revolution was when socialism really solidified into a movement that fought for worker's rights. It's what is needed to cope with this coming change, but a large amount of effort has been made to discredit and demonize it.

        The ancient Greeks thought that democracy was a poor system because people voted for their own self-interest instead of the greater good. Turns out that these days it's a poor system because people vote against their own self interest because of propaganda and fake new

      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        Remember when we also slaughtered a few million in two big wars (and several smaller ones) and several million with a flue? That was fun as well.

        And the rest died a lot younger. The average age was 70 or so. That mans a higher percentage of the jobs became available where people now work till they are 65 or older.

    • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2017 @11:22PM (#55648311) Homepage Journal

      OMG technology will take our jobs. Oh wait it took jobs that we didn’t want to do and it created a new market for more jobs.

      One of these things is not like the others.

      When you automate a few, or even all, sock factories, the workers can go make sweaters and underwear, etc. The economy as a whole doesn't make a radical shift. There's some hardship for a small number, but the flex is there.

      When you automate everything, the workers won't have that option. The entire economy will shift. There won't be new jobs for workers – because just like the old jobs, general purpose systems will be able to do those as well. There will be no case for hiring a human for such jobs. None.

      Unless you have some concrete proposal for the re-employment of the vast majority of the workforce, your vision remains on the highly unlikely side – McDonald's will not put a worker in place of a machine that costs much less and is more reliable; there's absolutely no business case for it. Neither will anyone else. In the present economic system, doing so is a straightforward invitation for competition to undercut your costs and overwhelm your competence.

      These systems will be able to do all such jobs. The only question is just how sophisticated they will get... and betting that they won't get very sophisticated is a dubious bet. We're seeing higher levels of competence every day now, and there's no sign of it slowing down – quite the contrary, it's still accelerating.

      A major social and economic shift will result. It could be very painful if we're not very quick on our feet. All of the "work ethic" inculcation people are driven by is going to turn from an advantage to a serious detriment in the space of just a few years.

      You watch. Unless the whole machine learning sector drags to a halt (not looking that way at all, btw), this stuff is all inevitable. It's almost certain to cause an immense cultural and economic shock.

      • You watch. Unless the whole machine learning sector drags to a halt (not looking that way at all, btw), this stuff is all inevitable. It's almost certain to cause an immense cultural and economic shock.

        Which ends either in Skynet, or the Butlerian Jihad.

      • > When you automate a few, or even all, sock factories, the workers can go make sweaters and underwear, etc.

        Too late to make that argument. Sweaters and underwear were automated a long time ago. Along with the production of fabric to start with. As I've pointed out elsewhere on this page, someone keeping an eye on an automated loom has an average salary of $32,000. A weaver made ten cents a day. The more automated the work becomes, the more goods are produced per worker. More goods is more money coming

        • someone keeping an eye on an automated loom has an average salary of $32,000. A weaver made ten cents a day.

          Do you think the cost of living hasn't changed in 200 years, or are you knowingly making a bullshit comparison?

          • by xvan ( 2935999 )
            The guy in charge of a production line gets a higher salary than the one doing the job manually because of the costs of stopping the production.
        • by gtall ( 79522 )

          Ah, the old argument: I don't need to cut down that tree because it has never fallen on my house before. There are black swan events. You are arguing there are no black swans in economics, but there clearly are.

          Workers do not merely retrain for other jobs, it requires an entire infrastructure. And if the retraining is for more technically competent jobs, good luck getting most of America back in the classroom. This is the same classroom a good portion of them feel it is a badge of honor to disparage. That d

      • Another difference is that in the 1800s there were a lot fewer people around. Some areas were pretty much empty. Others were only populated by brown people who a) didn't have guns and b) were heathens and so didn't count.

        There seems to be a complex relationship between industrialisation and imperial expansion and you can make a case for causality running either way, or both. One thing's certain, a tiny place like Britain couldn't have invaded a quarter of the world if all the men had to stay home growing

      • This seems reasonable but the article only claims 375 million jobs. In a world of 7B people this is a lot. A bit more than a sock factory. But it's by no means the whole economy.
    • Eventually yes (Score:2, Insightful)

      by rsilvergun ( 571051 )
      it took 80 years for those jobs to materialize after the last big industrial revolution. During those 80 years we had wide spread poverty due to unemployment plus two world wars (and innumerable smaller conflicts). It was pretty much an all around shit time to be alive unless you were a member of the aristocracy.

      So yeah, the ship will probably eventually right itself. After a lot of pointless misery that could be easily avoided if we just plain _tried_. Let me put it another way: unemployment and social
    • This seems to happen every 50 years or so. OMG technology will take our jobs. Oh wait it took jobs that we didnâ(TM)t want to do and it created a new market for more jobs.

      What's your sample size? If you're arguing it happens every 50 years over the last 200 years then statistically that's not a very strong argument. Kind of like stock market arguments. Wow it goes up 8% every 20 years which gives maybe a sample size of 5 with the modern market. Not a strong argument.

  • When will we have good adaptive learning algorithms and weak AI in highly functional yet cheap humanoid form? 50 years? 100? 150? Because that day is coming, and will be the day humans cease to be useful for any menial tasks, mental or physical. Slavery of a new sort will displace workers, a morally sound, corporate backed, DMCA covered, and every bit as creepily terrifying as it is profitable.
    • by lucm ( 889690 )

      When will we have good adaptive learning algorithms and weak AI in highly functional yet cheap humanoid form?

      How do you think your iPhone was manufactured

  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2017 @10:56PM (#55648231)

    I requested G section and when it was granted, G section put me onto training straight away for my new position;

    I love it how these economic-sounding pronouncements about worker obsolescence make it sound like merely a bureaucratic operation plus a dash of worker initiative and the jobs problem is solved.

    I like economics, but I'm increasingly convinced that economists are mostly the ecclesiastical division of the capitalist class. Their role is to endorse greed and dislocation of workers as necessary and good works and rebuke critics who question the outcome.

    • A whole bunch of them are currently railing against the Republican tax plan as a $1.5 trillion dollar combination boondogle and giveaway to the aristocracy. But our mass media is owned by that aristocracy so unless you're listening to something like Mother Jones or one of the left wing youtubers you wouldn't know that.

      The elites figured out in the 80s they needed think tanks to give them some legitimacy. That's all this is. But if you can managed to bypass the think tanks and watch the stuff coming out
      • by gtall ( 79522 )

        Bullshit. The New York Times and Washington Post, just to name two, have been regularly running articles pointing out the fallacies of the new tax cuts. They even reported on an administration official who said it wasn't a tax system overhaul, but a giveaway. They have also widely reported that the big donors to the Republican Party will stop supporting it if they do not get their tax cuts. And they have reported this explains why a widely detested party with low poll approval is going along with an alleged

  • We also ruined alot of farmhand and candle makers and box creator jobs too back in the 19th century.

    But as someone unemployed competing agaisn't Indians currently for jobs that adjusted for inflation pay less than what I was worth 17 years ago it is discouraging. My country the US is so far far right that any income redistribution is considered communism and is vehemently opposed as entitlement snow flakes to do just that.

    What are people supposed to do to have a secure average life?

    I loved Star Trek TNG as

    • that would be a good start. Otherwise they're going to get desperate, they're going to get mean and they're going to get organized and it's going to end they way it did last time: World Wars and pogroms against some vulnerable minority.

      We have a solution. It's socialism. Give people the fruits of those machine's labors instead of letting an elite aristocracy monopolize them. I realize it's frustrating to let people have things they didn't 'earn' (funny how it's not when they inherit wealth, but that's s
    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      China is already investing heavily in automation. They fear that the rest of the world will automate and their large population will become a relative high cost way to manufacture.

  • The largest losses won't be among tech and factory workers. It will be retail and driving.

    Retail already has big bloody chunks torn out of it by online sales.

    The rush to automated rides, trucks, and personal vehicles is breathless.

    Moral of the story: Find something better to do.

    • Moral of the story: Find something better to do.

      Go fishing.

    • by mentil ( 1748130 )

      It gets worse. Automated driving will enable new forms of automation not possible before. There are tons of jobs where someone drives to a client location, does X job, then drives back to the office. Humans were necessary to drive there, do X, then drive back. Once the driving is automated, the human will only be needed for X, and beancounters will start thinking "I wonder if we can automate X..."
      First on the chopping block will be moving/loading/unloading type jobs, postal delivery and moving-van type stuf

  • A driving force of Japanese robotics R&D is to solve their elder care problem. Eldercare is certainly in their crosshairs. Perhaps we can export all of our displaced accountants and mortgage bankers to change bedpans.

    Actually, unless someone troubles to risk creating AIs for cooking the books, only honest accountants and bankers really have to worry. Does that mean its not a problem at all?

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Care of the elderly is becoming a problem for most developed nations, as populations stabilize or even begin to fall. Pensions and elderly care provision all relied on a growing population to work, so that one old person's care was paid for by several younger people. Now it's getting to 1:1 or worse, the young don't want to pay any more.

      The basic contract on which most modern societies were built, that you pay for taxes and contributions now and are looked after in old age, is breaking down. Robots may help

  • What if itâ(TM)s a high paying job and the workers replacement job pays a third? Thatâ(TM)s just as bad.

    • by mentil ( 1748130 )

      The obvious solution is to use your last check to buy a robot that will outperform you and send you its income. Then, once you've purchased enough robots, you can open a robo-brothel. Then, pray that Jude Law doesn't catch wind.

  • by Puls4r ( 724907 ) on Thursday November 30, 2017 @12:39AM (#55648513)
    In my experience, the people we currently having 'managing peole' are usually the least capable of doing so. Just like Human Resources is NOT there to help employees - because they aren't. Of course these jobs that add very little to the final product won't be robotized. For the same reason our congress critters and senators won't let it happen.
  • When I grow up, I wanna be a robot! Daddy says that's where all the jobs are.

  • Does insisting on a human being paid to scan my shopping make me the only Luddite on slashdot?
    • by imidan ( 559239 )
      I hate the self-checkout aisle. I'm competent at scanning groceries, but the moment I do something unexpected in the "bagging area" I have to wait for someone to come fix it. I don't know the code number for my produce, so I have to look it up. I have to key it in on a shitty touchscreen. If I bought beer, someone has to come inspect me. I used a reusable bag, and it confused the machine. The whole process takes 5x as long as it would have with a human being. The checker is faster at scanning, has memorized
      • I hate the self-checkout aisle.

        They're terrible. And it appears they're not cheaper either.

        The cheapest supermarkets in the UK (Lidl and Aldi) use a small number of well trained staff compared to the large bank of self checkouts and poorly trained staff in the other supemarkets.

        They can reliably scan goods faster than I can pack them, too.

      • by djinn6 ( 1868030 )
        Just because the current incarnation sucks, doesn't mean it will always suck. A lot of the stupidity you go through with the current machine is to prevent mistakes on the part of the customer. Image recognition (e.g. Tensorflow) is already good enough to recognize things about 95% of the time, it won't be too long before it can distinguish produce just as well, or even better than humans. At which point, you would only have problems while buying beer.

        As for the amount of time spent in checkout, you're fo
        • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

          "Just because the current incarnation sucks, doesn't mean it will always suck."

          It also doesn't mean that it will improve. The only thing that will bring improvement is competition that gives a better customer experience w/o significantly costing more.

          • by djinn6 ( 1868030 )

            "Just because the current incarnation sucks, doesn't mean it will always suck."

            It also doesn't mean that it will improve. The only thing that will bring improvement is competition that gives a better customer experience w/o significantly costing more.

            I don't recall there being a monopoly in this market? In any case, I don't think anyone's ever won a bet against technology improving.

  • So when it comes to automation replacing jobs, why does the list of things we need more of never include "birth control"? If less humans are needed to handle current workloads, wouldn't one of the coping mechanisms be well, less humans? Maybe because it's not PC and people will accuse you of "genocide", but I think birth control is our last best hope(it's also why the only charities I ever donate to are ones that include birth control, it's not my fault if you cannot breed responsibly, I just want to make
    • >So when it comes to automation replacing jobs, why does the list of things we need more of never include "birth control"?

      Because that view includes the assumption that only the richest people have any inherent value. Even the poorest person has as much right to exist and have children as the richest.

      We should be encouraging a population reduction because we can more easily maintain our lifestyle if we have smaller numbers, not because rich people don't need servants any longer.

      • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

        Clue: The wealthiest portion of the population doesn't have kids nearly at the rate of the poor.

  • 39 million to 73 million jobs in the U.S. could be destroyed, but about 20 million of those displaced workers can be shifted fairly easily into similar occupations.

    If occupation A is automated, and all the ex-As move into similar occupation B, isn't it pretty likely that B is going to be next - by the middle of next week, probably?

  • How much job automation will be driven by corporate legal and HR when they realize that a robot cannot be accused of sexual harassment? This will push automation even into the highly "social" jobs that involve a lot of interfacing with either customers or other employees, because these are the most legally vulnerable.

  • Who knew that that many hookers would be put out of work?!?

  • The actual report (Score:5, Informative)

    by RandCraw ( 1047302 ) on Thursday November 30, 2017 @09:07AM (#55649925)
  • ...who's going to have the money to buy the stuff that these robots make? What will happen to our consumerism and advertising driven economies then? Will /. be able to survive? Is this how the robot apocalypse will be, i.e. an economic depression rather than Skynet and killer androids?
    • ...who's going to have the money to buy the stuff that these robots make? What will happen to our consumerism and advertising driven economies then? Will /. be able to survive? Is this how the robot apocalypse will be, i.e. an economic depression rather than Skynet and killer androids?

      The eternal question. In the past, automation allowed the displaced to shift into new jobs. Whether that will be the case in this upcoming situation is not clear, since the goal is not to make things cheaper or better, but to eliminate jobs.

      This situation is not going to be stopped, but there seems to be precious little intelligent discussion on what will happen. There are many people who through lack of ambition, or mental makeup, are not capable of moving up to a higher-tier career. What do we do with

  • "The report says that 39 million to 73 million jobs in the U.S. could be destroyed, but about 20 million of those displaced workers can be shifted fairly easily into similar occupations."

    Doesn't that mean that automation will shift fairly easily into those folks new Jerbs?

    Not to worry folks, we'll all be bosses.

  • "39 million to 73 million jobs in the U.S. could be destroyed, but about 20 million of those displaced workers can be shifted fairly easily into similar occupations. Globally, up to 800 million workers could be displaced."

    Translation: 800 million jobs globally are being removed by automation, and only 25 - 50% of them are coming back.

    Perhaps we can stop with the "could be a rocky transition" bullshit already and wake up. Automation and good-enough AI is going to be a massive disruptor to human employment, it's coming faster than anyone can predict, and we don't have a fucking clue as to how to resolve that problem.

    And please don't tell me UBI is the solution when taxation is the obvious answer to fund it. You can't even ge

  • "39 million to 73 million jobs in the U.S. could be destroyed, but about 20 million of those displaced workers can be shifted fairly easily into similar occupations"

    So... best case is only 19 million formerly employed people out of work permanently and only 20 million precariously employed in newly-created, probably make-work, likely government-subsidized, low-paid jobs (unless of course, these new jobs are exported to $5/hour places overseas) for which there will be intense, ruthless competition that wil

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