Industry leaders are doing their utmost to achieve some sort of automation. While it is true that some jobs, or even a majority, will become unnecessary once industries become fully automated, the chances of that happening shortly is slim to none.
Automation in construction only serves to enhance worker productivity and not replace them. Job openings for general labor are still needed, and skilled laborers will always be in demand.
The changing nature of most buildings requires flexibility that machines cannot duplicate. Automation can be used for pre-fabricated houses, but unless you’re living in poverty, you wouldn’t want one of those. Machines lack the mobility to access locations as well as the ability to adjust to certain tasks.
More than 200,000 construction jobs were left unfilled in the past year. This shows that the construction industry is suffering from the lack of personnel and not the lack of automation.
Outsourcing is a bigger threat to manufacturing than automation. America’s manufacturing industry, which once accounted for a third of all American jobs and a third of the GDP, was affected by inferior trade deals and globalization. Factories moving to other countries and companies outsourcing their manufacturing arm are the two biggest reasons for the decline of the industry.
While automated assembly lines may be the future of manufacturing, automation has little effect on manufacturing employment. In fact, skilled workers are even more in demand. President Trump’s tax cuts and deregulations have reinvigorated the manufacturing industry, allowing companies to expand their operations and hire new workers.
Truckers are often touted as the most vulnerable when it comes to automation. Several companies have made significant developments in driverless trucks and cars, but drivers will always be needed.
The limited AI of driverless trucks allows them to cruise highways safely, as long as there are no significant complications — like an accident. Like airplanes, trucks still need an actual driver to deal with unforeseen situations. You will probably never see a passenger plane without a human pilot, and you will probably never see the same in trucks.
Automation might increase the demand for truck drivers. This means that more trucks will be riding out more frequently and more drivers will be needed to operate those trucks.
The biggest factor affecting truck drivers today, however, is age. Truck drivers are reaching retirement age, averaging 55 years. The industry is facing a massive shortage if no new truckers step up to replace the retiring old-timers.
Not in your lifetime. Doomsayers are forecasting near-total automation in five to 10 years, while in reality, that might not be achievable in even 50 to 100 years.
Everyone predicted massive improvements in space exploration in the 60s, but even now we have yet to replicate the moon landing. While automation will be a big factor in construction, manufacturing, and transportation, it is highly unlikely to replace a significant amount of human personnel.
There may come a time when industries become fully reliant on automation, but by then, we may be out exploring space or creating food with replicators. For now, robots are still your friends and humans are still indispensable.