Change before the changes will change you.
No matter if you think changes are positives or not, they will happen regardless. Automation started in the ’70s and haven’t stop ever since. We almost have a self-driving car, soon lorries and cargo vessels will be crewless. I am not here to list what jobs will be performed by a machine leaving a man at home, but I want to have a more holistic approach exploring what services around those jobs will be affected because it could be you and it’s time for us to start planning for a sustainable future. To keep this article to an acceptable reading time I will work around one example and leave to you the freedom to adapt and apply to any other relevant case.
The road transportation industry counts in excess of 7 million trucks operating only in Europe, on average a driver with a family of three, 20 million people rely on an income generated by this industry (we all know a truck often requires two drivers, so the number can easily be doubled). The automation of this service with self-driving machinery will be threatening a big community. This group of people create an induced market around their service that is also at risk. A truck driver needs rest areas on the way, restaurants and hotels to sleep during long trips, entertainment to relax. Slowly those ancillary services (business) that have grown around the transportation industry will start to fade. Many small communities have developed around the arteries road map, they have to refocus and redirect their service’s target if they want to survive. This could resemble the end of the world for many families, but is also a world plenty of opportunities if you think ahead. Autonomous trucks are not immune by failures, there will be needing for capillary service support on the ground, spare parts immediately available.
The big corporations will be running the business the small entrepreneur is living from today, but a driver can be the manager of a tomorrow small or medium business supporting the automation industry. The small family’s restaurant showing a menu of delicatessen along the highway, tomorrow will post a list of spare parts and repair services for a faulty autonomous track, yes a big shift in competences and passions, but is always the market that decides what he needs. The onboard AI computer will scan the network for the closest available spare shop with the part it needs making the call to your place having your address on its goggle map. Today we developed a world tailored servicing human being on the move, tomorrow we’ll need the same service focused to machinery. Remote working will see an entire industry busy to sustain efficiency in the autonomous transportation industry, today Amazon run warehouses with practically no humans inside, the step to move a good to a lorry’s bed in full automation is no effort. Within the crack of this mechanization, there is room for decisions makers and problem solvers and this is where your next job lay. It doesn’t matter if you like the idea or you believe is not going to affect you, this is started already and if we are reluctant to the change, the change will make us redundant. In the last years, many types of research have been conducted to identify the impact of cybernation, the McKinsey report predicts 35 to 75million jobs could be lost within 2030 only in the US, 800 million is the prediction for the entire world.
It is time now to think where do you sit and what you are doing, imagine a port town when all the vessels will be unmanned, taxis, restaurants, hotels, custom agents, crew boats, Helicopters, all unnecessary services to the new industry. How many plane seats are booked as seafares? We must analyze with great advance the secondary effect of automation, our politician have to look into this, the banks have to because there will be no people to deal with. It is a global responsibility to plan and implement automation in a sustainable manner to ensure a smooth transition form the work as we know it now and the new generation of jobs. In a few years, your next Uber run will be in an unmanned taxi, that taxi will not contribute to the local economy as it does today, not having a driver stopping for a meal of simply to buy the newspaper, probably at that time the restaurant will be turned into a garage and the newspaper kiosk will have shifted into a charging station.
I do not see the future black, I believe there will be a different way to contribute to the local economy, but we have to ensure we can embed into the new social fabric not to take the risk to emarginate ourself from the wealth production chain, just because we have decided not to make a change now when we have time. Create a place for yourself because if someone else does it, you have to take what has been left for you only.