The workforce is in for a disruption thanks to technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, and advanced monitoring systems. That means losing your job may be only a little worse than keeping it.
For people who aren’t sacked, you’re going to have to learn to work alongside the algorithms and robots, increasingly in heavily-digitized environments. And that means all that automation will churn out data that can be used to analyze your performance.
All that new information will likely affect who is hired, fired, promoted and given raises. It may also be used to predict your future actions and even extrapolate medical conditions. Yikes.
There oughta be a law …
Problem is, if you work in the United States, it’s pretty much a free-for-all for workplace surveillance.
The United States’ regulation of the workplace has long been an outlier among much of the world. Especially for private, nonunionized workers, the U.S. largely allows companies and workers to figure out the terms and conditions of work on their own.
Some are pushing for changes in labor laws, while the strong job market might discourage companies from getting too draconian right now. But if massive job losses happen thanks to these new technologies, businesses will get away with whatever they want with the people who are desperate to stay employed.
Escape the Matrix
So maybe this is a good time to remind you of the increasing attractiveness of freelancing, and that the average age of a successful startup founder is 45. On that latter point, the New York Times did a story on that very fact just a few days ago.
Of course, the Times continues to push the media narrative that “startup” means a VC-funded, world-changing unicorn that breaks a billion. That ignores the vast majority of digital businesses that are bootstrapped, customer-focused, and designed to enrich the owners with more money and freedom.
I try to contain my tendency to push at this, because I know not everyone considers themselves unemployable as I am. But if things keep moving in the direction indicated, those with traditional jobs may end up the objects of pity, not envy.