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Mon Mar 26, 2012, 06:50 AM

Marshall Brain: We are about to see a seismic shift in the American workforce [View all]

  • I got money in the morning from the ATM.
  • I bought gas from an automated pump.
  • I bought groceries at BJ's (a warehouse club) using an extremely well-designed self-service check out line.
  • I bought some stuff for the house at Home Depot using their not-as-well-designed-as-BJ's self-service check out line.
  • I bought my food at McDonald's at the kiosk, as described above.

All of these systems are very easy-to-use from a customer standpoint, they are fast, and they lower the cost of doing business and should therefore lead to lower prices. All of that is good, so these automated systems will proliferate rapidly.

The problem is that these systems will also eliminate jobs in massive numbers. In fact, we are about to see a seismic shift in the American workforce. As a nation, we have no way to understand or handle the level of unemployment that we will see in our economy over the next several decades.

These kiosks and self-service systems are the beginning of the robotic revolution. When most people think about robots, they think about independent, autonomous, talking robots like the ones we see in science fiction films. C-3PO and R2-D2 are powerful robotic images that have been around for decades. Robots like these will come into our lives much more quickly than we imagine -- self-service checkout systems are the first primitive signs of the trend. Here is one view from the future to show you where we are headed:
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Reply Marshall Brain: We are about to see a seismic shift in the American workforce [View all]
txlibdem Mar 2012 OP
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