Turning automation and ensuing unemployment into the greatest opportunity in human history
Gregg Alpert

Gregg — excellent article. Thorough, well-written, and thoughtful. I very much agree there will be both a reduction and reshaping of jobs. One factor though I don’t think we can fully estimate at this time is the the longer-term scale of reductions. Current machine-learning (nearing AI) systems have resulted in few job reductions and instead a shift towards the higher-level aspects of the job. In your radiologist example, the radiologist could instead of working 80% less spend the other 80% of their time working on more complicated cases, collaborating with doctors to improve care of patients and pursuing more personalized treatments. Instead of freeing up time we have instead substantially improved patient experiences.

To also look at other examples like business — would a business say to an experienced employee that we want you to work 80% less? Or would you instead reapply their talents and knowledge to a new business opportunity? Do we have policemen/women work 80% less or spend 80% more time out building goodwill or solving cold cases?

So while I think the number maybe much higher than 17% remain traditionally employed (maybe closer to 40–50%), that is trivial compared to the question “how does each one of us thrive personally, mentally and within our society in the coming 2–3 decades?” The transition will likely not be smooth and painless regardless of our best and necessary efforts to facilitate the transition to this future society so we will all be challenged in our personal adaptability, collective empathy, embracing of others societal contributions, and the role our governments or some institutions will need to play in the new reality.

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