2 weeks Discovery Channel
Despite what Matthew McConaughey says in True Detective, time is NOT a flat circle. As it continues to march along unimpeded so too does our grasp on the world, on time and technology, and what we all need to do to survive. Each time a huge technological advancement comes, it completely changes the employment landscape. The industrial revolution was met with fear and trepidation that swathes of people would find themselves out of work, but all that happened was – after a period of flux – the jobs that were available simply changed. We are a few decades into the fast-moving digital revolution, and it has already spelled doom for a number of once-important industries. But the more we automate and digitalise, the more certain jobs will become relics of the past. Let’s look at some common jobs that simply won’t exist in a few years.
While many have predicted the downfall of the media, of print publications, and of investigative journalism (or any journalism) – this seems like mere scaremongering – an overreaction to the internet’s widespread dissemination of free information, and the numerous old-model jobs and businesses that have been decimated by this. While it’s impossible to ignore the negative impact such leaps have had on the more traditional media models, it will be the copyrighting jobs that are first to go – persuasive writing sticks to a few fast tenets, and as such, is ripe for automation. Soon, that sassy copy in those David Jones catalogues you toss out will be written by programs that identify a few key details plus the target market, and then go to work. Software that can accurately mimic the speech patterns of humans has been in use for over a decade, and is getting progressively better, so it can’t be too long before these bots are selling you delicious, thirst-quenching Sprite.
The taxi industry has already taken a major hit with the introduction of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, but these are mere variations on taxiing, with a slightly different business model. It’ll be the introduction and infiltration of driverless vehicles that will spell the end of the taxi industry. Related professions will fall by the wayside too, such as truck drivers, train conductors, and bus drivers. As cities start to automate public and private transport, those individuals keeping the timetables tight will fall disappear.
It should be obvious by now that factory farming is the number one cause of global warming around the planet, a major contributor to the mutated virus outbreaks that occur far too regularly and spread far too quickly – and an unacceptably barbaric and cruel practice. Cows pump more methane into the environment than all the vehicles and construction combined – obviously this isn’t at all sustainable, for our planet or our health, as we were reminded this year as we experienced the hottest September day on record. Meat substitutes are coming about in leaps and bounds, with recent developments even able to mimic the texture of tendons and blood with disturbing accuracy. But, despite the uncanny replicas, made of soy and bread and whatever else, it will be the cloning and development of actual meat from nascent cells that should see the world’s meat supply come from labs and tubes, not slaughter and environmental murder.
While I could be widely optimistic and declare that world peace is coming to a future near you, the reality is that war will be raging long after we’ve run out of reasons to go to war. Mercifully, most of the ground combat will not be done by flesh-and-blood humans, but by drones and variations of these, controlled at safe distances, with (hopefully) minimal bloodshed. While it makes sense to spare soldiers’ lives, and remove the proximity that is needed to carry out tactical manoeuvres, the real danger with employing armies of drones – aside from the unsettling dystopic nature of such a thing – is that erasing the distance and humanity (or lack thereof) from war may result in a separation between the actions and the results. The shocking “Collateral Murder” video released by Wikileaks showed a situation in which shooters were treating the carnage they caused like a video game – and drone fights, controlled from half the world away, will only deepen this disconnection. Still, a future without foot soldiers coming home in boxes is one that nobody can argue against.
It’s already well on its way, as you’ll have noticed in supermarkets across the land. There are more machines automatically tallying your groceries and less cashiers trying not to laugh at your terrible dietary choices as they scan your Oreos. This isn’t going to be a trend that reverses; what we are witnessing at the moment is store assistants monitoring their own replacements. The technology is still riddled with bugs, as anyone who has briefly rested an “unexpected item” in the baggage area can attest to – and isn’t it funny how seldom customers have grumbled about having to now do all the scanning and bag packing ourselves? – but once the machines are foolproof (no more random freezing, no more peaches able to be scanned as apples) the role of the cashier will be a relic of the past.
Once known in popular culture for shooting up offices, and being subject to regular dog attacks, the reliable, neighbourhood postie is already being replaced by drone delivery systems, which are faster and cheaper. Amazon’s Prime Air system performed its first unmanned delivery this March, and although Federal Aviation Administration is slowing the legal process regarding airspace, this will be a minor hurdle, and an inevitable one as online ordering, and our reliance on on-demand services continues.
Already a dying vocation, travel agencies are now basically automated online hubs for booking holidays and plane tickets. Largely absent are those helpful travel agents, who would drop exotic knowledge, barter and balance on your behalf to secure you the best combination of deals, and make your holiday relatively stress-free. Travel journalism, horror stories, and holiday “cheats” are available all over the net, so that knowledge you could rely only upon your travel agent, and their many, many glossy brochures to provide is all now available at the click of a button. Well, a few clicks.
Posted by Nathan Jolly.
Game-changing innovation and entrepreneurship on show.
Tuesdays at 7:30pm AEST/NZST
© 2017 Discovery Networks International All Rights Reserved