At some point, the wages laborers demand will exceed the cost of automating their work. It may take many years and lots of effort, but machine learning models will keep getting better and compute cheaper. Eventually and almost certainly, a robot will be able to do your job - at first poorly, and then less so.
While increasing minimum wage seems sensible and ethical, it also incentivizes faster automation (at least for low-wage jobs at big companies). Small businesses with unskilled work - and where that work doesn’t immediately and obviously increase revenue - will be unable (or unwilling) to hire. This class of businesses and the corresponding jobs will disappear.
If you are labor, you cannot take job security for granted. Sure, the more specialized you are, the longer you will have before your job is automated. Your best source of protection is to continue to get smarter, faster at learning, more productive, better at leading, and more sophisticated. But at some point the robots will be better than you or at least good or cheap enough.
This is not as bad as it sounds, however, as this has always been the case. Humans are freed up to do higher order tasks as technology improves. This new technology inevitably brings about a novel class of tasks that laborers can service. This is how we get exponential expansion of possibility and new jobs.
While the intersection of the cost of labor and the cost of automation seems to be fast approaching, humans will take refuge in the jobs created a long the way.
2020-05-04 00:00 -0400