In the past, I have written extensively about how M2M/IoT will eliminate a large number of jobs.  While it might not make a job completely obsolete, it will certainly reduce the number of people needed in that particular role by up to 95%.  Think farmers...a couple of centuries ago the vast majority of us worked on a farm. Now that number has dropped to 5%. These jobs were not completely eliminated by the introduction of the steam/combustion engine, but pretty close.

So, does that mean that the introduction of this new disruptive technology is all about rich people getting richer?  Well, in some ways, sure, but it also solves another key issue....we're getting older.

The largest cohort of people in history (the Baby boomers) are now fully into the "Back-nine" of their working careers and this poses two huge issues.....

1. How do we replace the skills that they have, especially in areas that are not as well-filled by the millennials, such as blue collars trades like welders?

2. How do we care for such a large portion of elderly people, especially ones with a much longer life expectancy than previous generations?

Are robots the answer?

For the first question, I think that robots/automation can definitely help, but not necessarily as job replacements.  I see it more as a way to make people more productive.  I look at it in the same way that a legal office works.  For the most part, all work that comes into a law office COULD be done by a law partner, including all of the clerical work.  However, this makes no sense as why would you want to have someone making hundreds of dollars per hour doing that?  So, most law firms have a hierarchy of people, with clerical staff doing some work, junior lawyers handling a lot of the legal work and partners focusing on the highest level of work requiring the most skill and strategy.

I see the use of robots/automation doing something similar.  This will allow your more skills workers to focus more on work that requires their higher level of skill.  This allows you to do much more work per person, which will help to negate the huge amount of Baby boomers leaving the workplace.

With regards to caring for the boomers, technology can help in a few ways.  First, using home-based solutions to aid seniors will help to keep them out of more expensive facilities, keepings costs low.  As well, a robot may be of assistance in helping the seniors do some basic things around the house, such as cleaning and monitoring of vitals.  This may help to keep the number of field nurses / care workers down to a more manageable number.

The Bottom Line

There is always a natural tendency to fear the unknown.  The idea of robots taking over jobs hasn't been well received in many areas, namely because of a bad job done by management to use them as a tool to make people more productive, rather just to eliminate jobs.  We need to find ways to fill in for boomers as they leave, not keep all of our youth unemployed.  They understand technology and openly embrace it....have them work with it, not have it replace them.