The economy of the world has constantly changed over recorded history. 150 years ago, most of the US population was involved in agriculture. Since then it has changed gradually as new occupations have been created, and old ones have disappeared. This process continues to the present day but the Internet and the IT revolution has speeded it up.
Thus this story from MIT Technology Review
A recent report (which is not online, but summarized here) from the Oxford Martin School’sProgramme on the Impacts of Future Technology attempts to quantify the extent of that threat. It concludes that 45 percent of American jobs are at high risk of being taken by computers within the next two decades.
The authors believe this takeover will happen in two stages. First, computers will start replacing people in especially vulnerable fields like transportation/logistics, production labor, and administrative support. Jobs in services, sales, and construction may also be lost in this first stage. Then, the rate of replacement will slow down due to bottlenecks in harder-to-automate fields such engineering. This “technological plateau” will be followed by a second wave of computerization, dependent upon the development of good artificial intelligence. This could next put jobs in management, science and engineering, and the arts at risk.
So what does this mean for education?
- A child entering Kindergarten today may be doing a job when they graduate college that doesn’t exist today.
- Many of the skills the school system attempts to teach will be outdated when they graduate college.
- The days of having a career in a single field are mostly over even today. In 20 years a successful career will be marked by flexibility, lifelong learning, creativity, and adaptability.
- None of those things are emphasized in schools today, which instead emphasizes conformity, standardization, and context-less fact learning.
- The big problem here is it’s not what schools are teaching that is the problem, it is how it teaches things. This is different than previous changes in society.
Nothing exists in a vacuum including public education. There will be consequences…
So how will this mass job displacement affect society? I’ll have some thoughts on this on Friday.