It’s no secret that robots are on the rise. From household cleaning, to information gathering, to driving and even news writing, machines are taking over many roles that humans once filled.
So what, then, will the jobs of the future look like? Will there be any jobs at all?
Should we Worry About a Jobless Society?
In a chat with Hope 103.2’s Mornings presenter, Katrina Roe, Sydney-based Futurist Ross Dawson said machines have been taking over jobs for centuries, ever since the invention of things like the wheel and the spinning jenny.
And it continues today with a vengeance. Driverless cars, for example, are already considered safer than the average human driver. In the coming years, legislation will come to meet this change, said Ross.
The retail and customer service industry is another field of work that will become automated, because of the constant demand for speed and efficiency.
“Customers are not going to have a long and heart-felt conversation with the person in front of the counter,” Ross said.
The Things Machines Cannot Do
Even as robots multiply rapidly in the marketplace, Ross says we don’t need to panic and worry about a purposeless future. There will still be roles and employment for humans as robots become more prolific; they’ll just be based around capabilities that machines will never have.
According to Ross, the three key human capabilities that will always be needed for society to flourish, are:
- Relationships and
“We do need to nurture our creativity,” he said. “We do need to focus on human connection and choose things we can be experts at. Humans design the technology and design the way the world works, so that it functions well for humans.”
Technology, services and products all have their place, but face-to-face interaction itself is only something humans can understand, says Ross. Jobs in these areas will always require human employees.
“Look at growing areas such as personal services or tourism, things where relationships are important and anything where we can apply these creatively,” Ross said
Focussing on roles that people can uniquely do, is the way to ensure that humans stay in control of technology instead of technology controlling humans.
Ross believes society will always have the need for a human’s touch, and we just need to be proactive about making sure economic factors don’t force humans out of work altogether.
“We can design a future of work, of economy and organisation where we can all have productive, meaningful, fulfilling and rewarding work,” he said.
The Power of Technology
Ross added that news about robots is not all bad; in fact they have a lot to contribute to modern society.
For example, virtual reality has changed the way entertainment is consumed, and is even being used in the health and education sector.
Should We Worry About Post-Work Economy?
With so many jobs being taken over by technology there may be an unemployment problem in the future. Some academics have coined this as a “post-work economy”. But Ross reassures us that we’re not quite there yet.
“Unemployment in Australia is relatively low, even though many jobs have been destroyed in Australia—manufacturing not the least. But we’ve still created jobs to match those,” he said.