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August 30, 2021

Worried that a robot might take your job? Perhaps you should be.

Machines are now getting so advanced that they’re soon going to be better than human beings at doing, well, everything, suggests Martin Ford in his book The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future

Today, robots and automation are a greater source of job loss than outsourcing, he maintains. And things are only going to get worse, he predicts.

At the Flextronics solar panel factory in San Francisco, there are robots everywhere and few human workers, according to the New York Times.

All of the heavy lifting and almost all of the precise work is done by robots. The human workers trim excess material, thread wires and screw in a handful of fasteners.

"As production speeds continue to increase, there has to come a point where the only option is to get the humans out of the loop," Ford predicts. "In many industries, automation may penetrate more rapidly than we expect simply because a threshold is reached where people can no longer keep up."

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But it's not only about large manufacturers.

At the University of Texas, a startup called Briggo LLC has installed a coffee kiosk run by a robotic barista in the academic center, which is visited by 10,000 students a day.

In New York, courts are using predictive coding, a computer-assisted document review that turns much of the legal grunt work currently done by underemployed lawyers over to the machines.

Has automation meant displacement where you work? Or have things actually improved as a result? 

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...