This question was prompted to Ray Kurzweil – well known futurologist, pioneer of the Singularity movement and Director of Engineering at Google – by a member of the audience during a Q&A session at an Executive Program hosted at Singularity University last October. You might not give it much thought now, but the truth is half of all American jobs could be replaced by robots in just a couple of decades. If you’re a teller, supermarket cashier, call center operator or even a famer, you’ll likely lose your job in the coming decades. So, what’s to do then? Should we all rally and ban robots? It’s no easy topic, but at the same time it’s important, I think, not to panic. We need to remember that this isn’t the first time something like this happened. It’s the old human vs automation problem. How many millions of jobs were lost to mass production in the late XIXth century? How many more once computers started permeating society? At the same time, new jobs were made. Just look at where the information industry is today. The major challenge is not if new jobs can be made. This isn’t really a problem. The real challenge is to make these available at the right pace and make sure people have the necessary resources to repurpose their skill set. I’ll leave you to Ray.
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