In the Industrial Revolution, we went from the majority of the population working in agriculture and small artisan workshops to factories with hundreds of people mass producing.
Artisans disappeared, society and the production model changed. But not before going through great social upheaval. But the gains for society were enormous. Not only in terms of employment, but also in terms of the value created in goods and prices that were much more accessible to large sections of the population.
The Machines are Coming, Again
The process that is now beginning with AI (artificial intelligence) will be similar to the industrial revolution, but much faster. The structure of production will change not in 50 years, but in 5-10 years.
Automation is an evolutionary force of civilisation itself, so it will continue whether people like it or not. Protesting against machines because of job losses is like protesting against rain because it can kill people if it falls hard.
The real challenge is to provide society with the means to adapt and with decent working conditions. Not to return to the systems of exploitation that existed 200 years ago. And above all, linking education to real job opportunities.
A Problem of Adaptation
Jobs will be lost in direct proportion to the inability to adapt education, the level of taxation, the number of bureaucrats, etc. In other words, unfortunately a lot of jobs will be lost. At first it will be relatively slow and gradual in some sectors such as ICT, but in a few years the process will accelerate.
Politicians’ most likely (and wrong) solution will be about regulation and UBI (Universal Basic Income) for large sections of the population, who would become permanently dependent on the state.
It is important to note that the cause of the drama will not be technification, but society’s own inability to evolve. It is necessary to insist on the need to change the educational model and to give real and practical opportunities to all those whom the system will tend to exclude.