More job-stealing robots on the way

It’s a bad time to be a taxi driver.

In the future, only Google will be able to afford traffic tickets. (Zandr Milewski via AP)

In the future, only Google will be able to afford traffic tickets. (Zandr Milewski via AP)

Passengers and traffic are often unpleasant and there’s increased competition from Uber and Lyft drivers.

Soon, if we are to believe an article I read recently on CNBC, robots will be driving away with even more jobs.

“By 2021, a disruptive tidal wave will begin,” says the report, and “robots and so-called intelligent agents” will replace six percent of humans working in customer service, trucking and taxi services.

Six percent doesn’t sound like much of a tsunami, but will the wave of robot workers stop there?

Having read many science fiction novels all the way to the end I can assure you they won’t. The avarice of artificial life exceeds even that of humans. Have you not yet noticed the deleterious effect smartphones and tablets are having on human interactions?

There are times I think that if my wife’s iPad ever brings home a paycheck they’ll run off together.

It’s only going to get worse.

According to NPR’s “Planet Money” column, the most common job in Georgia and most other U.S. states in 2015 was truck driver.

Why is that profession so popular?

Because “a worker in China can’t drive a truck in [the U.S.], and machines can’t drive cars … yet,” NPR intones ominously.

Other “popular” (aka low-paying) jobs in Georgia, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, include retail salespeople, cashiers and food service workers.

If you’ve ever shopped online or used self-checkout at a grocery store you know it’s often less of a hassle to involve as few humans as possible in your shopping experience.

Amazon is already experimenting with drone delivery of packages and my bank strongly encourages I make deposits via a mobile app instead of a human teller.

I can’t remember the last time I purchased music from something other than a computer.

When’s the last time you trusted a human for directions?

It won’t be long before more Georgians will compete for jobs against the soulless machinations stewed up by high-tech wizards.

Self-driving cars are already on the road and do a much better job of not killing humans than people. Google’s project has logged 1.7 million miles and been responsible for fewer road accidents than my sisters.

Google says its driverless cars will be able to use most roads and streets by 2020, about the same time many manufacturers predict self-driving cars will start rolling off robotic assembly lines.

Four U.S. states and the District of Columbia have given self-driving cars the green light and “autonomous” taxis are already cruising the streets of Singapore.

Would you jump in a car without a steering wheel, gas or brake pedal? I’m probably not going to jump in the first driverless car I see, but the chaos of my daily adventure on I-285 makes me think some people already are.

Is your job safe? Should you be worried?

I’m not and you shouldn’t be either. But, the first time you meet a robot be nice to it. It may be your boss some day.


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