Last week, I read a global report about automation. The study was conducted in 25 countries, (The U.S. Canada, 10 European, and 12 Asian) with over ten thousand people participated. According to the report, most people (82%) believed that robots would take over most manual jobs in manufacturing as well as in the office. About 75% of people believe that robots will be doing most jobs by 2025. But the interesting thing was as many as 42% think that their jobs are still safe by the automation trends. People who work in the office believed that they would not be impacted much as compared with manufacturing people. The report also found that 77% of people were concerned about their children’s future but did not know what to do. But young people do not share the same feeling. Only 41% said they are concerned about automation, but 38% believed that they could deal with automation in their own way by learning more about technology.
The fact is many jobs that exist today will be automated in the near future but new jobs will also be created, but all new jobs will require different skills and education. Therefore, it is essential for parents to encourage their children to take more STEM courses (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) starting in elementary, high school, and college and explore careers in science and technology, as early as possible. In this changing time, it seems education is the only solution to avoid the rapid automation trends because with artificially-intelligent robots, many things will change and no one can predict what will happen next.
Today, we already see self-driving cars, fully-automated factories without people, and smart devices that connect and working together. In the near future, we will see a large number of very sophisticated robots do things that go beyond our imagination, and they could take many jobs that we do not even think possible. For example, many companies are building “Service robots” to work in restaurants, hospitals, and housework but soon we may see “smart robots” working as medical doctors, lawyers, and accountants. In the past, automation only impacted the labor and unskilled people, but with artificial intelligence, even the skilled people may not be able to keep their job because technology changes fast so what people know could become obsolete over time. The issue is current education systems often too slow to change and will not be able to give people the skills that they need to keep their job. Where young people do not have opportunity and hopes anymore, they become more susceptible to extremist ideologies which could turn a country into chaos and vulnerable to wars.
In order to avoid this situation, every country must focus on improving their education system to prepare their young people to learn specific skills so they could make a living in this time of fast change. This is a long-term investment that requires strong leadership of the government to take a different approach to education. The traditional classrooms and curriculums must be redesigned from elementary to college to meet the unprecedented change in history, and this will only happen if everyone works hard to make it happens.
- Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University