Posted: February 23, 2012

More of the two billion disappearing jobs:

Teachers, trainers, professors

Thomas Frey

(Editor's note: This is the second of two parts. Read Part 1.)

3.) Education

The OpenCourseware Movement took hold in 2001 when MIT started recording all their courses and making them available for free online. They currently have over 2080 courses available that have been downloaded 131 million times

In 2004, the Khan Academy was started with a clear and concise way of teaching science and math. Today they offer over 2,400 courses that have been downloaded 116 million times.

Now, the 8,000 pound gorilla in the OpenCourseware space is Apple’s iTunes U. This platform offers over 500,000 courses from 1,000 universities that have been downloaded over 700 million times. Recently they also started moving into the K-12 space.

All of these courses are free for anyone to take. So how do colleges, that charge steep tuitions, compete with “free”?

As the OpenCourseware Movement has shown us, courses are becoming a commodity. Teachers only need to teach once, record it, and then move on to another topic or something else.

In the middle of all this we are transitioning from a teaching model to a learning model. Why do we need to wait for a teacher to take the stage in the front of the room when we can learn whatever is of interest to us at any moment?

Teaching requires experts. Learning only requires coaches.

With all of the assets in place, we are moving quickly into the new frontier of a teacherless education system.

Jobs Going Away

  • Teachers.
  • Trainers.
  • Professors.

New Jobs Created

  • Coaches.
  • Course designers.
  • Learning camps.

 

4.) 3D Printers

Unlike a machine shop that starts with a large piece of metal and carves away everything but the final piece, 3D printing is an object creation technology where the shape of the objects are formed through a process of building up layers of material until all of the details are in place.

The first commercial 3D printer was invented by Charles Hull in 1984, based on a technique called stereolithography.

Three-dimensional printing makes it as cheap to create single items as it is to produce thousands of items and thus undermines economies of scale. It may have as profound an impact on the world as the coming of the factory did during the Henry Ford era.

Jobs Going Away

  • If we can print our own clothes and they fit perfectly, clothing manufacturers and clothing retailers will quickly go away.
  • Similarly, if we can print our own shoes, shoe manufacturers and shoe retailers will cease to be relevant.
  • If we can print construction material, the lumber, rock, drywall, shingle, concrete, and various other construction industries will go away.

New Jobs Created

  • 3D printer design, engineering, and manufacturing.
  • 3D printer repairmen will be in big demand.
  • Product designers, stylists, and engineers for 3D printers.
  • 3D printer ‘Ink’ sellers.

5.) Bots

We are moving quickly past the robotic vacuum cleaner stage to far more complex machines.

The BigDog robot, shown above, is among the most impressive and potentially useful for troops in the immediate future–it’s being developed to act as an autonomous drone assistant that’ll carry gear for soldiers across rough battlefield terrain.

Nearly every physical task can conceivably be done by a robot at some point in the future.

Jobs Going Away

  • Fishing bots will replace fishermen.
  • Mining bots will replace miners.
  • Ag bots will replace farmers.
  • Inspection bots will replace human inspectors.
  • Warrior drones will replace soldiers.
  • Robots can pick up building material coming out of the 3D printer and begin building a house with it.

New Jobs Created

  • Robot designers, engineers, repairmen.
  • Robot dispatchers.
  • Robot therapists.
  • Robot trainers.
  • Robot fashion designers.

Final Thoughts

In these five industries alone there will be hundreds of millions of jobs disappearing. But many other sectors will also be affected.

Certainly there’s a downside to all this. The more technology we rely on, the more breaking points we’ll have in our lives.

Driverless drones can deliver people. These people can deliver bombs or illicit drugs as easily as pizza.

Robots that can build building can also destroy buildings.

All of this technology could make us fat, dumb, and lazy, and the problems we thought we were solving become far more complicated.

We are not well-equipped culturally and emotionally to have this much technology entering into our lives. There will be backlashes, “destroy the robots” or “damn the driverless car” campaigns with proposed legislation attempting to limit its influence.

At the same time, most of the jobs getting displaced are the low-level, low-skilled labor positions. Our challenge will be to upgrade our workforce to match the labor demand of the coming era. Although it won’t be an easy road ahead it will be one filled with amazing technology and huge potentials as the industries shift.

 

Thomas Frey is the executive director and senior futurist at the DaVinci Institute and currently Google’s top-rated futurist speaker.  At the Institute, he has developed original research studies, enabling him to speak on unusual topics, translating trends into unique opportunities. Tom continually pushes the envelope of understanding, creating fascinating images of the world to come.  His talks on futurist topics have captivated people ranging from high level of government officials to executives in Fortune 500 companies including NASA, IBM, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, Unilever, GE, Blackmont Capital, Lucent Technologies, First Data, Boeing, Ford Motor Company, Qwest, Allied Signal, Hunter Douglas, Direct TV, Capital One, National Association of Federal Credit Unions, STAMATS, Bell Canada, American Chemical Society, Times of India, Leaders in Dubai, and many more. Before launching the DaVinci Institute, Tom spent 15 years at IBM as an engineer and designer where he received over 270 awards, more than any other IBM engineer.

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

Robot therapists? Trainers? Fashion designers? I don't think I follow. There is a wide gulf between the rules-based computing required for autonomous movement to some form of AI with true reasoning capability. I imagine we may get there, but this form of machine intelligence was unmentioned in the text of the article. Michelle has some interesting points. However, I don't expect credit will ever go away. It is too useful a tool for the elites to extract the fruits of our labors from us. By Nunya Bidnez on 2012 02 23
I think this is accurate up to the point of needing robots to replace fisherman or miners. By the the time this future is a reality, all meats will be created from Invitro, making hunting, ranching, and fishing obsolete but not because of robots but genetic replication. Mining for coal or natural gases will be obsolete because these elements will be depleted and the world will have devised technology to eliminate the need for them to begin with. The one thing that this article also forgot to mention was the technology to not need credit cards or money but simply by usin your retina or fingerprint or a combination would access your accounts and credit will disappear and the population will survive solely off of what they have earned. Eliminating loans, creditors, and debt. By Michelle on 2012 02 23
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