Robots don’t have to take over jobs in order to be a problem for workers

The argument that humans will keep their jobs even as machines become more advanced is generally an optimistic one—except when it’s being made by Albert Wegner.

During a panel discussion hosted by New York University’s Stern School of Business and the McKinsey Global Institute last week, Wegner, a ‎managing partner at Union Square Ventures, argued that humans will continue to have a competitive advantage over robots and algorithms… because they’ll be so poorly paid.

“I think full automation is a big red herring,” he said. “What has been happening to a lot of jobs is that the qualifications required to carry out the job have been pushed down [because of new technology that automates part, but not all, of their work].”

Wegner cited London cab drivers as an example. Traditionally, drivers have had to pass a comprehensive test—dubbed “The Knowledge,” it involves memorizing 25,000 London streets—in order to receive a license. Now, “all you need is a little device that you punch in your coordinates–actually, the customer has already punched them in for you–and the thing just tells you where to turn.” In other words, apps like Uber haven’t replaced taxi drivers, but rather (as other technologieshave done with other occupations throughout history) they’ve made it possible for less-skilled workers to do the job. At least until driverless cars take over….

Source: Robots don’t have to take over jobs in order to be a problem for workers — Quartz


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