One concept that seems to be gaining exponential progress is that of: automation. There is a remarkable amount of effort that is making automation much, much simpler, and cheaper to do. In fact, we’ve already seen this, and have accepted this in many cases:
- Self-service check-out at the grocery store and other retail stores
- Self-service car wash
- Looking for houses online (realtor simply unlocks the house for you nowadays)
- Automated garbage trucks – and soon to be coupled with “self-driving cars” technology – which absolutely are a reality – and legal, if you haven’t been keeping up!
- Shopping via Amazon and having almost every part of that fulfillment be automated – astounding!
- Semi-automation at McDonalds (they have automated drink dispensers, burger flippers, and French-fryers)
- Full automation fast-food kiosks in Europe and Asia – where you order, and everything is prepared by automation.
The problem is –
All of these activities used to represent actual jobs that people had, which no longer exist!
What should be even more alarming is how quickly this happened. This all happened in the past 10, maybe 15 years – right?! Just to give you an idea of how pervasive this is, I also ran across this completely autonomous cow-milking device which requires virtually no human intervention at all. If anything, you’d just need to restock the device with supplies – and do something with the gathered milk. The cows literally walk over to the machine when they are “ready” to be milked, and the entire process is automatic, including tracking that batch of milk with the RFID that is on the collar of that cow. That way, the quality and quantity of milk from each cow can meticulously be tracked by the owner.
My point is two-fold:
- The idea that plentiful part-time jobs will even exist by the time your children reach their late teens is becoming far less likely.
- With skyrocketing college costs, and with that degree giving you much less value in the job market – that is troubling too.
What I’m getting at is that we will see massive amounts of automation in the coming years that will have a really big impact on the economy and availability of jobs for the upcoming generation.
Neural networks, machine learning, and AI:
You might think “meh, that’s all futuristic star wars stuff, dum-dum!” Well consider too that artificial intelligence is also becoming mainstream. I mean mainstream to the point where large corporations now have a department for neural networks and machine learning. We teach the neural networks about traits for high-risk customers – or for fraudulent orders, and the machine uses it’s “brain” to scan through millions of records to look for patterns, and best-guesses. So granted, this isn’t “artificial intelligence” to the point where you could carry on a conversation, but it is to the point where these computers have some remarkably impressive skills to make decisions and look for patterns, better and far faster than humans.
The Future Job Market:
Between automation becoming ridiculously simple and cheap to do, coupled with neural-networks and machine-learning becoming mainstream – the automation industry is poised to dramatically change the landscape of pretty much any job that has a script. If you can teach the steps of your job to a person, than it can (and will, eventually) be automated.
This means, to me, that the only real jobs that will be around in the next 15-20 years will likely be ones that require more skill, problem-solving, or creativity. Put another way:
Computer science jobs are actively working to automate all other kinds of work. So, you can choose to be the bug, or choose to be the windshield!
For part-time, I could see every fast-food place, super-market, etc being completely automated with just a (skilled) person or two to watch over the machines. With the use of lots more cameras, facial recognition, and image processing, you could virtually eliminate theft too – as that could be detected by cameras. If you don’t believe that technology exists right now, check out how Kinect cameras work for gross-motor body tracking (which can track and following up to 6 people, right now), and the Leap Motion devices for fine-motor tracking (including tracking every finger, up to a millimeter in precision!)
So, I can’t really think of any part-time job that would still exist in even 10 years from now. For full-time work, that too is going to get way more competitive, because we have exponential population growth colliding with this automation trend which is radically reducing the number of jobs out there. Put another way, we are actively reducing the number of paying jobs that are needed – all while the population is actually growing. That is a recipe for… something bad.
So, in this reporter’s opinion, the path most of us took with getting part-time work or working during the summers when we were young – simply won’t exist by the time your children are in their late teen’s, early 20’s, trying to figure out what to do for a career. There won’t be traditional part-time jobs to work at anymore, and full-time careers will be much more limited. We are heading full-steam into what is bound to be a difficult transition.
The point of this post is to consider putting in an effort to educate your children now, start early and get them interested in the engineering disciplines – computer science or computer engineering in particular. If your child chooses a path about how to create automation systems or how to program neural networks, they will definitely be positioned very-well in the coming years. If not, or if they simply take the traditional education path – that is going to leave them, with the rest of the masses, out of work, massively in debt, and confused on what to do!