Stunted Revolution

Most executives in tech believe that the next five years will bring about a significant number of jobs lost to automation. As advances in robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) are being rapidly developed, the capability of machines to do work previously requiring humans is ramping up. However, not all executives subscribe to this idea of the ultra-fast progression of automation.

Outgoing Chief Executive of General Electric, Jeff Immelt did not mince words regarding his feelings about the impending automation take over. Speaking at the Viva Teach conference in Paris, Immelt said, "I think this notion that we are all going to be in a room full of robots in five years … and that everything is going to be automated, it's just BS. It's not the way the world is going to work."

Immelt believes that tech executives who have no experience running or working in a factory have no idea of how they actually operate and therefore cannot realistically gauge how automation will progress.

Jeff Immelt. Image credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Human/Tech Integration

Other experts like tech giant Elon Musk and Greg Creed, the CEO of Yum Brands (the people behind Pizza Hut, KFC, and Taco Bell) believe in the near threat of automation to many human jobs. Elon Musk goes even further in saying that humans need to integrate with machines in order to remain relevant in the future.

The problem with looking at automation as something in the far off future is that it limits the necessary conversations of what we can do to prepare workers for job losses. One of the more popular solutions to this automation issue is a Universal Basic Income (UBI) that is supported by the likes of Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and other experts.

Both sides of this issue are interpreting evidence into predictions. These predictions can only be discounted or vindicated by time. Even so, the questions of what we can do to prepare are still vital whether automation is 5 or 50 years away.

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