Physics of the Future: Future Jobs

What I’ve learned from reading Physics of the Future by Michio Kaku:

So there has been a little bit of talk on the news about jobs lately. Okay, there’s been a lot of talk. In fact it’s just about all we hear about. “There aren’t enough jobs!” “Those China cheaters are stealing our jobs away!” “All these taxes are limiting job growth and new businesses!”

I am not an economist, and though I was good at math in high school I am terrible with numbers and numeric thinking. But thanks to all this research and learning I’ve been doing, I have a perspective to offer. (Technically it is Kaku’s perspective I’m presenting, with my comments)

Kaku writes that over the course of our civilization’s development jobs have naturally changed over time. We were once all hunters and gatherers, and now most of us only hunt and gather as a hobby. Once we had milkmen and now they are extinct. As are blacksmiths, coopers, and tons of other jobs.

As our technology changes and becomes more advanced we are able to make our lives easier by getting rid of a lot of menial work. One of the jobs that we are phasing out is factory work. Machines are becoming much more effective at doing menial, repetitive labor than any human. So yes, we are losing factory jobs! But why does anyone really want that job? It’s degrading and mindless. When you do it you’re less than a robot, and robots are nothing right now. They don’t have the intelligence of an insect. Humans are so much better than that–every human no matter what his or her background is better than a robot, so we don’t need to do robot jobs anymore!

Of course this kind of work has been some people’s whole lives. That’s all they’ve ever been trained to do, and that’s the fault of our system. Our education system teaches nothing. And my parents are both teachers. I’m a teacher (preschool, but still). We need to start preparing everyone for the real jobs of the future and stop worrying about the ones we just don’t need anymore or we will go the way of the ancient Chinese and all the other failed empires. (See Monday’s post for more on that, and on Friday there will be more on education).

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