By: R. Mautner
Older generations are no strangers to several jobs and occupations becoming obsolete – usually due to the advancement of technology or society in general. Elevator operators, bowling pin setters and other mostly low-paying jobs have been replaced by cheaper technological alternatives. But those are only the smallest examples: in other occasions, entire businesses were shut down due to technology rendering them useless, such as video store companies, which lost their market to online streaming services like Netflix.
This will continue to develop in the following decades as the world changes at an increasing rate, affecting not only jobs and businesses but professional areas and careers as well. The most plausible prediction is that any area/ occupation that requires no higher education or specialization will be replaced by machines, such as cashiers and dispatchers. Transportation workers will potentially be wiped out by automated (self-driving) vehicles. Travel agencies might become a thing of the past as digital systems become more and more sophisticated. Even surgeons could lose their jobs to surgery machines that have already been tested!
Yet, this is not necessarily all bad news. Although this would cause significant unemployment in some parts, many theorize that it will open more opportunities in others as a response. The arts and human sciences in general are speculated to grow and be considered more valuable in the future world since they won’t ever be replaced by technology. In a world dense with information, educators will be considered essential. Obviously, tech-related occupations which already have massive opportunities now will probably keep increasing in demand. Moreover, with social media turning into a key part of our current lives, these platforms could also give employment to several ‘influencers’, social managers and such.
In a general sense, the gambit of technology is that they can do the repetitive, manual hard labour for us, giving humans the opportunity to pursue more intellectual, complex – and possibly more fulfilling – work. However, this kind of work requires higher education, something that unfortunately not everyone has access to. One might say it’s a solution and a problem.
Nonetheless, we can only speculate what the future holds. There are clear trends to base ourselves on, but still, drastic changes happen, sometimes quite unexpectedly. It is crucial to plan for the future, yet fundamental to plan for the unplanned.