The Washington Post article on which this blog post is based can be found in the 20th January 2016 edition on page A13 in the article written by Jena McGregor. The theme of the 2016 gathering is the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This is the term it uses to describe the accelerating pace of technological changes. It emphasizes changes that are “blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres,” which is the combination of things such as artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, and 3-D printing. It projects that by 2020, 7.1 million jobs are expected to be lost vs. only 2 million jobs gained. The WEF study predicts different magnitudes of effects depending on gender. The repot estimates that in absolute terms, men will face about three jobs lost for every job gained, whereas women will face more than five jobs lost for every job gained. Now the astute reader will realized that this breakdown does not square with the overall number of jobs lost even given the difference in gender losses. Whether this is due to the WEF report or the report on the WEF report is unknown. My queries to the author were not answered. Another study by Oxford University researchers estimated that 47 percent of U.S. jobs could be taken by robots in the next two decades.
The good news is that about a third of the skills that will be most desirable in 2020 aren’t even considered important today. Social skills such as persuasion and emotional intelligence are expected to be more in demand that limited technical skills. so are creativity, active listening, and critical thinking.
So the good news means that the new jobs are likely to be more desirable that the old jobs that are being lost. There still will likely be an increase in unemployment unless other measures are taken, such as shorter work days, many more vacation days, and opportunities for personal development. I’ve written in previous healtymemory blog posts that when I was in elementary school in the fifties, the prediction was that there would be much more leisure today as the result of technology. That has not materialized. Moreover back then it was unusually for mothers to work. And the technology that emerged is well beyond the technology that was envisioned. So why are we working so hard. A priority needs to be given to quality of life rather than gross domestic product (GDP) (see the healthy memory blog post, “The Well-Being of Nations: Meaning, Motive, and Measurement”).
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