I know that Donald Trump said he will put people back to work but will there be any work in the future? Think for a moment what the future most likely will be like with most of today’s jobs gone!
Think back just 20 years when everybody used Kodak film and most pictures were printed on their paper. They had nearly 200,000 employees and now they are gone, filed for bankruptcy. The digital camera wiped their business out.
What happened to Kodak is happening in a lot of industries, look around and we all can see examples of the coming revolution. Self-driving cars, robotic manufacturing and even robots farming but the big one is 3D printing and these are just some examples.
Then there is software which will and is changing the world. IBM has developed a program called Watson where you can get legal advice from the computer and there are sites like MedlinePlus where a program can advise you on health issues. These programs are becoming more accurate than most professionals and they are getting better every day.
These programs are progressing so fast that we are having a hard time keeping up. Lawyers and doctors will be down to just a few as people get their own advice and diagnosis so only the specialist will survive for a while longer.
Software will change virtually every industry and business we know. Just look at Uber which does not own any cars yet is the biggest taxi company in the world. Waze, software that directs you anywhere for free, no more paper maps, goodbye Thomas Bros. Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don’t own any properties.
Look what is happing in real estate where people can get the value of any house and check prices through Zillow without a sale person. Also because of programs we can work almost anywhere we wish so cities will change as many professionals move out. This will be accelerated by self-driving cars where you can work on the road and you do not even have to own a car. Think about it “no car” or parking lots needed, no traffic jams and far fewer accidents. Wow what will happen to insurance companies when we do not have to buy car insurance?
Solar production has been expanding for 25 years and the impact is beginning to be felt both in home and utility scale development and production. In 2015 more solar energy was developed than fossil fueled plants. Although still more expensive than conventional plants, the price of solar is coming down.
This is changing how power is marketed; today most of the overhead costs are imbedded in the cost of energy people use. Yet the cost of delivering energy to the home is more expensive than the energy itself. Plus both solar and wind are not near as reliable as people have come to demand. This requires the utility to have power on standby just in case, but if people do not use it; someone still has to pay for it.
Think of the new 3D printers which use to cost 20 to 30 thousand dollars but now sell for less than 500 dollars. The space station now has a printer that eliminates the need for the large amount of spare parts. Parts can be made for almost anything including the new shoes that are hitting the market. In China, they have already 3D printed and built a several story office building. Some spare unusual replacement parts are already being printed in remote parts of the world.
The result of all these changes will be that more than 50% of today’s jobs will be gone just like Kodak. Then the question is, will there be enough jobs for people. There will be new jobs created and some old ones will continue but there will be a huge net loss so where will people work?
A few weeks ago I suggested lowering the work week to around 36 hours but I do not believe that will result in near enough job creation. We need to set a goal on a 32 hour work week or maybe even lower as this is the start of the 4th industrial revolution.