The Coming Era of Post-Work

The gutting of manufacturing jobs by robotics during the last few decades is a portent (and microcosm) of what’s to come for the wider global economy in the coming years. For instance, with autonomous vehicles coming to fruition, I expect jobs in the driving professions to be mostly obliterated in twenty years. Progressive governments will need to manage the transition to post-work—the report calls for a second Marshall Plan—but much of global politics is trending towards reactionary, neo-fascist regimes. If changes due to AI and robotics are mismanaged by ignorant, tech-illiterate governments, we may see income inequality on a scale beyond imagination, perhaps even revolution-worthy income inequality.

To deal with the transition, the analysts say many countries may have to launch “an initiative on the scale of the Marshall Plan, involving sustained investment, new training models, programs to ease worker transitions, income support, and collaboration between the public and private sectors.”

The options for income support could include initiatives such as more comprehensive minimum-wage policies, wage gains tied to productivity growth, or universal basic income.

Unfortunately, McKinsey notes that “investment and policies to support the workforce have eroded” over the past few decades.

Robots vs. jobs: Report says automation will displace up to 375M workers by 2030