Will Robots take your Job?

As we are experiencing the Fourth Industrial Revolution, new types of jobs are being created while present ones are becoming redundant. Automologist MAC ponders on its impact on the automotive industry…and his own future.

The incessant march of automated progress is with us as we enter a new industrial revolution in which robots are now building robots that build the things that we want. Putting it simply, robots are so very much better, and ultimately cheaper, at doing repetitive jobs that used to keep so much of the human workforce gainfully employed.

President Obama has just announced a US$4 billion addition to the federal budget to aid the development of autonomous transport. The aim is to end car accidents, reduce pollution, save work hours, reduce transport costs and of course be at the forefront of a future industry/technology. All of which are noble aims of any government, but has any one stopped to think about the social carnage that will impact upon the victims of this new, post-modern revolution? What about all of those who will be thrown out of work and onto the scrapheap of society.

Don’t think that this revolution is in the distant future either; it is upon us already. Just think of all the people who are already without a job, such as printers, production line workers, postmen, publishers, camera shops and record manufacturers, since the smartphone took over. In fact, the UK government has just announced that some 35% of current jobs are under threat from the march of technology in the next 20 years.

Autonomous cars and trucks are now as inevitable as the sun rising in the morning, so this got me to thinking about all of the jobs that would disappear as a result. Some of them will of course not be missed, but others already leave me with a pang of nostalgia.

Truck Drivers
We have a picture of truck drivers being some sort of Knights of the Roads, but the truth is far from that. In the US of A, driving a truck is the most dangerous profession with 852 deaths last year. To put that into perspective, that is 852 families without a parent, and 852 less breakfasts served at the local greasy diner each day.

Taxi Drivers
Uber, Google and Apple are already looking to the time when the driven ride becomes automated, thus dispensing with the need of a driver. In a number of countries, driverless systems are undergoing testing. As Trevor Kalanick, the CEO of Uber, puts it, taxi services would be so much more affordable if you didn’t have to pay for the other dude in the car. Again, in the US of A, taxi drivers and chauffeurs are the most likely to get murdered whilst on the job. So, all good then. Autonomous vehicles will significantly lower the death rate; well in Americaland, at least. There are of course others that would be seeking alternative employment.

Used Car Dealers
Now, wouldn’t this be nice. In fact, one glorious side benefit of the autonomous revolution is that we wouldn’t be burdened with having to actually own our own vehicle. We wouldn’t have to go and buy one and hence car salesmen would all but become extinct. No more wondering just where and how we got cheated. We will just subscribe to cars in much the same way as we already subscribe to iTunes, Netflix or Pornhub (oops).

Car repair shops
Autonomous cars will eliminate accidents and thus thousands upon thousands of repair garages will also go out of business. And since all of the vehicles will be operated by large fleets who will service centrally, there will be no need for quick lube shops. So, we can all say goodbye to the discovery of problems that aren’t actually problems as the service centre tries to upsell you something your car doesn’t really need.

Personal Injury Lawyers
Yes, it is not just people directly involved with vehicles that would be seeking alternative employment. These vampires would mostly disappear from the US of A where afternoon TV is jammed with commercials proclaiming a lawyer’s ability to make you instantly rich if you have been involved in an accident. Well, goodbye to Shyster & Shyster, and good riddance to these blood-sucking leeches is all I have to add.

Motoring Journalists
Ouch, this one is a little close to home. Let’s face it though, if all you are doing is getting in a Google-pod, you are not really going to be that interested in the latest car lists or top speeds, or how it handles the twisty bits. Thus, journalists will be joining taxi drivers on the scrapheap, and so as I face my coming obsolescence, my own personal redundancy, I go with the knowledge that you probably won’t miss me when I am gone.

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