By Michael Solomon, 10x Management Co-Founder
This article, originally from The New York Times, and the data within it are at the core of the unseen epidemic that has begun to plague our society. We are truly at the beginning of this dilemma, but the evidence is clear. For those who want a deeper dive into job loss caused by automation and artificial intelligence than this article, I strongly urge you to read The War On Normal people by Andrew Yang which came out a couple of months ago and very clearly and carefully explains this trend on every level.
The thing to remember about one of the most important measures of success in our society (aka the unemployment rate) is that it is not including a huge population of unemployed Americans. As the article states, the unemployment rate is incredibly low at 3.8% (at a percentage not seen since the 1960s). Unfortunately, though this is the “official” unemployment rate, it paints an incomplete picture. This number does not account for those who are unemployed but have stopped looking for a new job. This is a very significant amount of people and if you want to have the real unemployment picture for our nation, you can’t overlook this group.
Without retreading all of the points made in the Times article, we need to find a new measure of unemployment that factors in those who are so disillusioned and disenfranchised by either the job market or specifically, the competition from automation and artificial intelligence that they have given up the search for full-time employment.
It serves our politicians well to speak to the unemployment number but it is such a disservice to the millions of Americans whose skills have been phased out by technology that they have completely given up hope and subsequently the search.
As automation and artificial intelligence continue their ascension, this problem is going to grow exponentially worse with astounding speed.
The solutions are fuzzy and range from education and re-skilling – which will (if done properly) at best, provide life skills to those left behind on the one hand – to universal basic income on the other, which will provide financial assistance to all.
While neither of these solutions are perfect, they share a common trait which is their require massive intervention by the federal government. Sadly, our current administration is relatively silent on this topic, providing rhetoric to bring back jobs that are no longer relevant in the energy sector and manufacturing jobs which no longer exist.
We need a systemic policy change and focus and we need it now. Unfortunately, we’ve never been farther away from it.
The good news at the end of all of this is that the data is getting more and more clear. People are beginning to take notice and move this crisis to the top of their agenda.
If automation and AI-related job loss becomes a main topic during the 2020 election cycle, we can start to demand real change from our legislators and change our course to avoid the big ass iceberg that we can see floating just ahead.
If you liked this article and are interested in learning more on how automation and artificial intelligence are affecting the workforce, check out our initiative at www.thedayafterlabor.com.