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    Are These the Droids You’re Looking For?

    Robotic arm welding IThis week, I saw a 15 minute video on YouTube, called Humans Need Not Apply. In summary, the video postulates that we are experiencing a “robot revolution,” wherein advancement in automation that performs physical labor and make decisions could profoundly impact a wide range of occupations representing approximately 45 percent of our workforce.

    While robots are currently performing tasks once completed by humans in manufacturing, the video predicts that the machines will replace humans in a range of sectors – including transportation, legal, and medical. Robots will likely even impact professions in music and the arts. “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for? They don’t have to be perfect, they just have to be better than humans,” the narrator asserts.

    Okay, so perhaps the video is overstating things. Droids like R2D2 and C3PO are still light-years away. But the video makes an important point that can easily be missed as a result of the video’s shock and awe delivery. The point is that we are in the midst of a profound and unprecedented technological revolution. Many low-skilled jobs are already being automated and many middle-skill jobs will likely soon follow. 

    When the revolution ends, the new normal will look very different (and in many aspects better) than it is today. All aspects of life – home, community, leisure, and work – will be profoundly impacted. Throughout the transition, Goodwill will continue to work in innovative ways and advocate for policies (maybe written by robots?) to help people with employment challenges to find jobs and advance in careers. You can stay up to date on this and other topics related to job placement by joining our Action Network.

    Seth Turner
    GII Sr. Director of Public Policy until 2015
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