The Robots Are Coming — But That Doesn’t Mean You’ll Be Out of a Job

Young woman working in a robotics workshop.
Georgijevic/Getty Images

For a while now, our (soon to be) Robot Overlords have been making us nervous.

Every day, articles pop up warning us that eventually all of our jobs will be done by a robot army as we stand by helplessly, watching our mechanized comrades perform surgeries and build houses and drive around without our help.

And so we panic — because if a wavering confidence in job security due to competition with other intelligent humans wasn’t enough, we now have to fight off these droids that grow smarter and more powerful with every interaction.

I mean, it’s enough to make you seriously consider homesteading a cave in a remote unreachable-by-robots jungle somewhere, right? (No? Just me?)

But don’t call that realtor who specializes in cave dwellings just yet (especially if your realtor is a robot), because we’ve finally heard some good news.

Apparently, 85% of the jobs humans will be doing in the year 2030 haven’t even been invented yet.

Plus, they’ll be pretty robot-proof.

The Future of Jobs

That’s right. According to a new report from Dell and the Institute for the Future (IFTF), quickly emerging technologies will create an almost entirely new job market over the next 13 years or so.

Because of this, the study says, the nature of work will change entirely. People will be learning in the moment and will have to train and retrain constantly as new industries are created and “new skills will be required to survive.” (Survive?! I thought these robots were going to be friendly?)

In fact, the ability to gain new knowledge will soon be more valuable than knowledge itself.

The jobs humans will be doing will look different as well. According to the report, work will no longer be a “place” or a set schedule.

Instead, work will be a series of tasks which will come to you — companies will be able to search a global database of skills and competencies and then send individual tasks to the most qualified worker. (It almost sounds like an inflation of the current gig economy, right?)

The jobs that are created will evolve out of human-machine partnerships and will feature humans as “digital conductors,” while robots will act as extensions of people. Technology will simply help “to better direct and manage daily activities.”

The ideal situation, as the report outlines, would be for machines to provide “speed, automation and efficiencies” so that humans can focus on the things that humans are good at (or at least better than robots are at for now), like creativity, passion and entrepreneurial skills.

Rather than taking over and “stealing” our jobs — as the majority of the anxiety-inducing robot rhetoric suggests these days — robots will take our boring jobs, allowing people more time to focus on the things that make us truly human, like art and emotion (and naming paint colors — robots really suck at naming paint colors).

Shhh, Just Let it Happen

But while this whole robot-driven future may still sound a little terrifying, the report stresses it shouldn’t.

Rachel Maguire, research director at IFTF, emphasizes the need to “focus on what the new relationship between technology and people could look like and how we can prepare accordingly. If we engage in the hard work of empowering human-machine partnerships to succeed, their impact on society will enrich us all.”

So while this report sort of reads like a PR spin written up by the robots themselves, it also seems like a future full of robots is imminent — and it might be wise for humans to lean into it.

And let’s be real: in 20 years, you’ll step out of your self-driving car after a fulfilling day expressing your humanity via very human means, use your eyeballs to gain entry to your smart home, hand your bag off to your robot butler, and settle in for a delicious dinner made by your personal robot chef while your robot cat cleans its own litter box — and this panic will all be forgotten.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. The robots are here. Send help to– BLEEP BLEEP BLOOP, nothing to see here…

 

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