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Welcome to the Out Of Work Generation

You can watch this presentation on Youtube:

Let's start this week's blog with the beginnings of a list of jobs that probably won't exist by the end of this decade. The list is by no means meant to be exhaustive, but let's start with some obvious things.

We already have level 4 autonomous driving vehicles on the public roads. Level 5 will require no driver at all. We should hit that level sometime over the course of 2022. What's that going to do to taxi drivers and truck drivers? We already also have autonomous delivery pods which will get rid of the local delivery vans. As time goes on that will wipe out a serious number of jobs.

Banks are becoming increasingly pointless, cumbersome and expensive. 95% of my banking needs are now taken care of by automated banking systems. By the end of this decade I seriously wonder if there will be a high street bank left in the modern world. Peer to peer payments are already common using blockchain based banks, and the costs are negligible. I live in Portugal where the banking system is expensive and an absolute nightmare of pointless paperwork. It even takes between five and ten minutes just to pay money into an account over the counter. What are these idiots doing? Yes, I know, they are hindering me and wasting my time. I dont need them, and neither do you. More unemployed.

Borrowing money, investing money, swapping between jurisdictions. I do it all online using blockchain technology. It takes me seconds and I dont have to leave my armchair. If high street bank employees are still at their desks in the thirties then god help us.

We have intelligent contracts. Initially there will be a few cock-ups as the writers of these contracts learn the new routines, but the new way of doing things will undoubtedly start to decimate legal firm's current business.

And who is going to need conveyancers when the Land Registry goes over to blockchain technology? You will be able to transfer your house to someone else in minutes and at low cost using the new technology, which already exists. It merely needs implementing at scale.

Middlemen will be cut down in swathes as this new technology sweeps the world.

Even in the service industries do you honestly think people won't be made redundant? There are even machines that can vaccinate you. Call centres can now be serviced by AIs with the ability to carry on conversations with clients, and it is difficult to tell that you are indeed talking to a machine.

Let me go one stage further with this.

The general feeling is that all of this will not lead to people being put on the dole because the new disciplines will in turn need more workers.

I think there is an obvious answer to that. With the advance of Artificial Intelligence (AI), machines can be programmed to learn and to do almost any task that a human can do. These machines will be smarter, and cheaper than humans, and they will put vast swathes of the population out of work. And this will start to happen in a couple of years time.

What is all this going to do to the tax take?

People go to work. Once they start earning a certain amount of money, a percentage of that money is stopped from their wage packet and sent off to the tax-man. From there it goes to the government. The government then uses that money to pay, among other things, benefits.

As time has progressed, so have the adjuncts that workers have used to increase productivity. As those adjuncts take over more and more work, why not tax them as well, or preferably instead?

The more you tax mechanical devices, the more incentive there will be to streamline the services they perform, and therefore the work needed to be done by those devices, thus encouraging efficiency in business.

This move to taxing the mechanical workers will cut business expenses drastically. The tax take will rise, but the wages bill will drop through the floor, thus making the production of goods much cheaper, thus reducing the cost of living.

Wait a minute, doesn't this sound pretty good after all? There is now some money to pay the laid-off workers. There is still a problem with what they do with their time, but that is another story.

These days, not only can we watch football matches courtesy of a television channel, or a specialised sports channel, or even Youtube, but we can even watch robots playing football. Is that the ultimate in exclusion for humans in sport?

Actually, I suspect not. Within a year or two we will be able to choose a robot player in a digital game, take it off the field, and, courtesy of augmented reality (AR), replace it with ourself.

Where is all this leading?

Actually, in several directions. It is making everything abstract, or digital. We dispense with the football, the players, even the spectators, and even dispense in one sense with ourselves, as we transfer our physical body into a digital one, and play with that. To put that another way, we create an avatar for ourselves and put that avatar into the game, and control it while we stay safely back home.

This approach to the world dispenses with the need to go anywhere. It even transforms the space we appear to inhabit. We effectively can strap ourselves into our own individually created holodeck.

Isn't this the perfect way to deal with social distancing?

An unlikely way forward?

Not a bit of it. At this stage I am not going to say that such a world is just around the corner, but I certainly would not be surprised if it is. Let me explain.

Have you ever walked down a street or across a park, or sat on a train and noticed just how many people are somewhere else?

Yes, they are in a digital world that they enter courtesy of their mobile phone. They are not talking to the person next to them, they are talking to someone miles away across a digital link. They could even be talking to a digital entity. Most of these people probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

Some of you may recognise the significance of that previous sentence. Remember Alan Turing and his Turing Test?

A computer has really reached its apogee when a person can sit in one room and talk to a machine in the other room and he cant tell if it is a computer.

This situation is already with us, so expect all those help lines to become automated over the next couple of years. And what does an office need a front desk for? Just give people a Help Machine.

Let me refer you to an intriguing program that is available to watch on Youtube called No Sex Please We're Japanese.

We already have people caring for Tamagotchis, which are digital pets. The program mentioned above delved further into this obsession with digital pets and playmates.

Never mind the pets, what about the playmates?

Some way into the program the lady interviewer asks two Japanese guys a searching question. “Which do you prefer, your wife or your digital playmate?”

There follows a rather stunning silence as they consider the question. They actually have to think deeply about the answer.

Yikes! Where are we heading?

Clearly, we are already heading into a world that is content with physical social distancing as our digital partners are shaping up pretty well as alternatives.

And holidays are about to get a lot cheaper and a lot more exciting, with even more people out of work. Dont send your kids into the hospitality sector.

Want to go over the Iguaçu falls in a canoe? Easy. And you can do it much better using AR than actually visiting the site.

Why is this?

It will cost nothing. There is no long-haul jet flight. There is no disappointing hotel. And you can view the falls from several places without moving, and even go over the falls in that canoe and survive. You can appreciate the beauty, the excitement, the fear, all with no cost and no damage. What's not to like?

And later this year all of this will start to be possible as AR is rolled out to a mobile phone near you.

Next week I will have a closer look at how this can all be paid for.

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