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by Phil Stott | September 04, 2014


For as long as there's been technology, there have been predictions that we'll eventually reach a tipping point where it destroys more jobs than it creates. In some science fiction, this is the stuff that futuristic utopias are made of: with the dirty jobs farmed out to robots, humans can focus on other pursuits. Other takes on the future, however, are more dystopian—with less work to go around, we're more likely to experience high rates of inequality, becoming a society divided into discrete camps: those who work in fields that can't be automated (or that control the automation), and those whose jobs are being replaced.

Of course, real life is rarely so binary: the history of industrial and technological development to date has allowed humans to create entirely new fields with each step forward—many of which would have been unimaginable to our forebears. But a recent video making the rounds has reignited the debate in some corners, and makes a fairly depressing case that this time is different.

In just one of many examples, the video notes that the advent of driverless cars alone has the potential to disrupt three million transportation jobs in the U.S. alone—and an estimated 70 million worldwide. And that's without factoring in many of the other jobs that driverless vehicles could replace—warehouse workers, for example.

Whatever your take on the issue—and we'd love to hear it in the comments below—one thing should be apparent to anyone thinking about planning a career that is likely to last longer than the next decade: if your skills can be replicated by software, it's probably time to start working on acquiring some new skills.