The belief of a permanent population increase is still out there inside the collective consciousness. Or at least the idea of keeping it at the previous level. The viewpoint became almost an axiom, though in the end of the XVIII century Thomas Malthus warned of unregulated population upsurge risks. However, the rise in labor productivity in rural economy as well as other factors of technological advances (take medicine for instance) resulted in increased expectation of life and natural falling birth rates. In addition to Malthus’ theories, last century was ‘successful’ for humanity with its two global wars that took about 100 million lives and Spanish flu with its over 40 million victims.
Against all odds, the unemployment, the scourge of any society with market economy, is still here despite the grave population loss of the XX century. And what’s more, the issue is transforming into a different condition. The term ‘technological unemployment’ (or the loss of work places due to the technological changes) was introduced by Keynes in the 30s of the previous century while the phenomenon itself had appeared much earlier. Back in 1813, English Luddites were put to death for destroying machinery or industrial sabotage while their actions just depicted the reaction of workers losing the means of subsistence in the face of commodity production evolution (mechanization).
Rapid scientific and technological evolution of Western civilization during the XX century put the issue to the entirely new level while the XXI century made it a cruel dystopia or even apocalyptic nightmare. In this new world there is a place for only 20% of employable population that would be enough to guarantee a normal development of global economy. The other 80% of human resources are simply unwanted. Experts of McKinsey Global Institute analyzed two thousands of production targets among employees of 800 different professions and arrived at a conclusion that robotization even at its current level of development may throw idle over ONE BILLION people around the world. (A reminder, in September 2017 the whole Earth’s population was seven and a half billion). By 2055, a half of all existing work places in the world will be liquidated owing to a complete manufacturing automation while the labor productivity on a global scale will steadily increase by 0.8-1.4% annually.
People involved into industrial production will be hit in the first place because robotization will make 64% or in other words 230 million employed out of work all over the world. About 60% of workers in trucking industry are also in the risk zone because of Elon Musk’s wonder truck. Retailers will take a bit smaller impact – in 40 years the number of retail industry workers of 338 million will be reduced by 54%. The automation will have an effect on farming as well. Some experts believe that in a few decades just under a half of workplaces that is about 230 million people will be automated. However, this may happen ahead of the predicted time because supplies of farm machinery are continuously increasing. Even the representatives of the oldest profession can’t have any confidence in the future because producers of sex dolls develop samples with artificial intellect…
In the fantastic universe of cult Dune novel series by Frank Herbert people rebelled against machinery domination. Will our planet in the end of the XXI century face some kind of Butlerian Jihad or not, read in the next part of Prognostics.