A saner look at “robotification”

Download this pdf here. It’s worth looking at. But a little difficult to understand.

“Will robots take all the jobs” is no longer the question. Saner, smarter people are asking “when and how much at a time will this thing happen and what will it look like really?”

The most well-respected private think tank has weighed in. Their findings are sobering.

I write “sobering” because there’s a lot of fear and panic, particularly within the fundamental change movement, about workplace robotification destroying individual income-earning potential.

While I don’t necessarily agree with that, McKinsey published a report dousing fear and panic. Bottom line: yeah, it’s going to happen. But it’s going to be slow-goin’. Not because of resistance, but the implications decision makers must wade through, cost effectiveness being among them.

For example, it’s rare, the report explains, where robots replace people entirely. Usually, with existing technology, “robots” (which here includes software and other kinds of automation) only replace limited functions within a job. Usually, such efficiency-gains don’t eliminate people, they increase people productivity, freeing them from mundane, repetitive tasks.

The report also says it’s going to be a while before wide-spread job replacement. A long while. Like at least 25 years maybe. Meantime, there’s time to improvise and adapt, like humanity always has.

The world is getting better and so is humanity. There’s time to balance automation with the need for people to earn a living. That will make fundamental change so much easier.

And that’s why I argue against negative arguments for fundamental change. They are not as powerful as compelling positive ones. Because a lot of people don’t see the cause for panic. McKinsey seems to be saying as much. Read the report for yourself.

And yes, I know. “Robotification” it’s not a word…


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