We are living in the times of ever-accelerating technological progress. For most of the people, it’s a good news. Only a few years ago you wouldn’t have been able to watch a HD movie on your phone while riding a train on the way to work, or have a free video conversation with people at the other side of the globe. Today’s mobile phones are more powerful than desktop PCs were a decade ago.
Despite all this, there are many people who have good reasons to worry about the technology. Thess include both the experts and the lay people. The biggest worry isn’t the Matrix- or Terminator-style conquest of the world by a hyper-intelligent supercomputer. The biggest worry of all is about being made redundant by the technology.
Although this fear is not entirely baseless, I will show you why the reasons to worry are few.
The process of better technology replacing traditional labor is not new. Economists call it “creative destruction”.
Historically, there were people who suffered every time it happened; however, there were always more winners than losers. For example, linen industry that was driven by purely manual labor was entirely replaced by factory-based production in the 19th century.
This has placed many people out of work; however it has also gave work to many more people and has substantially decreased prices of linen for everyone due to far more efficient production process.
The rise of the non-jobbers
However, the technological progress of the 21st century is very different from the industrial revolution. The key difference is the concept of “non-job”, which came about due to the rise of the web. The term relates to the people who make money by writing blogs, making YouTube videos and building websites from the comfort of their bedroom.
Many people have heard of YouTubers and bloggers who make millions. In extreme cases, there are people who become multi-millionaires by recording themselves playing video games and posting the footage online. Many people think that this is unfair, but it certainly isn’t by my books.
Despite many misconceptions, your earnings don’t depend on how much you suffer, how much sacrifices you are making and what level of education you hold. Those things are sometimes helpful, but not always necessary.
More often than not, your pay is directly proportionate to the amount of service that you deliver. So, if you can, why not have fun while delivering the service?
The reason why YouTube gamers get paid so much is because their videos a watched by many people who actively seek their videos, so the demand is definitely there. Their actual paying customers are advertisers, who pay them for delivering the awareness of their brand to such a huge audience. So, everybody is a winner and nobody is a loser.
Therefore, one of the best things you can do if you are worried about your job being superseded by technology is to start blogging or YouTubing about the subject that you love. By the time you are made redundant, you will probably become good at it and start earning some serious cash.
These are only few examples of new earning opportunities enabled by technology. There are, however, many more.
And not everyone remains non-jobber forever. Many people turn their profitable hobbies into a business in a traditional sense and eventually build real companies.
So, for those who ask what the people with non-tech qualification will do when they jobs are no longer needed, the answer has nothing to do with the need for extended welfare state.
The bad news is that many of these earning activities require effort, time and the willingness to get out of comfort zone; therefore there will always be people who will fail to adapt to those changes.
It doesn’t matter how prosperous the society is and how plentiful the opportunities are, there are always people who, for various reasons, are not very well adjusted to the socio-economic system that they live in.
However, I would argue that economic success of a society is not measured by how many people live in poverty, but by how many opportunities exist for people to lift themselves out of poverty and become prosperous.
Therefore, if an individual remains poor due to unwillingness to take advantage of the opportunities available to them, it is a personal failure of the individual and not a failure of the society. Technological progress, therefore, is the single greatest contributor of the prosperity, as it creates these opportunities at a scale never seen before.
Old jobs lost = new jobs created
For those who are not very comfortable with earning through a hobby, the good news is that technological progress doesn’t just make jobs disappear. Instead, it replaces redundant jobs with newer and usually better ones.
Therefore the opportunities will still be there. The only caveat is that new qualifications may be required.
British government has made a step in the right direction by introducing coding into the school curriculum. Another good news is that tech is the least bureaucratic field to work in. Employers look for your ability to do stuff, not a piece of paper that proves that you have successfully completed some course.
Another good news is that internet has enabled people to develop various tech skills in the comfort of their own home completely free of charge.
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