Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Eric Schmidt the Chairman of Google has warned that:
“There is quite a bit of research that middle class jobs that are relatively highly skilled are being automated out.”
Mr. Schmidt indicated that the acceleration in technological innovation made the loss of jobs one of the biggest problems the world faces in the next 20 to 30 years.
“The race is between computers and people and the people need to win,” he said. “I am clearly on that side. In this fight, it is very important that we find the things that humans are really good at.”
The Google chief indicated the advances in technologies were creating “lots of part-time work and growth in caring and creative industries, however the problem is that the middle class jobs are being replaced by service jobs,”
In line with what I have been discussing Mr. Schmidt called on governments to invest in education systems to improve skill levels and human cognition.
Retraining and staying abreast of developments in human-computer symbiosis is critical for those who want to advance (or even retain) their careers, as Mr. Schmidt stated:
“It is pretty clear that work is changing and the classic nine to five job is going to have to be redefined. Without significant encouragement (from industry and government), this will get worse and worse.”
Of course Schmidt is correct to warn people and governments to get onboard, learn and adapt otherwise they will be left behind. However, as recent as last September he was indicating:
“Technology will create job opportunities for humans in the future, Innovation is the only solution to global growth,” he said, adding that he “doesn’t see any other path.”
In my opinion, as I have written about many times, yes people need to adapt but It’s not about human versus machine. Rather, it’s about the right kind of cooperation, because what humans are excellent at is where computers are weak, and vice versa. High-level reasoning requires very little computation, but low-level sensorimotor skills require enormous computational resources.
Photo credit Wikipedia