Last week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he wasn’t worried at all about advancing artificial intelligence taking over jobs anytime soon. In fact, he said, he wouldn’t be worried about it for another 50 to 100 years.
That was a surprising commentary considering the advance of AI (artificial intelligence) and the advances in robotics. New York developer Rockefeller Group is building two warehouses in Riverside County, California that will span 1.45 million square feet. The purpose of those warehouses is to be a distribution point for goods received at the ports of Long Beach/Los Angeles.
Giant cranes unload those cargo container ships far faster than the longshoreman directed activities of the past. Thanks to bar code technology the location of every widget in a warehouse can be identified and fetched by robots that can lift and move 3,000 pounds with ease. That means fewer jobs for operators of large fork lifts.
Recent studies from McKinsey and the economists Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne estimate that around 45 percent of workers currently perform tasks that could be automated in the near future. And the World Bank estimates that around 57 percent of jobs could be automated within the next 20 years.
Automobile welding as car move down assembly lines have become so common that photos of the action no longer attract too much attention.
Sellafield, on the coast of the Irish Sea, more than 300 miles north (and a bit west) of London, at the dawn of the Cold War; the U.K. chose this site as the place to begin enriching uranium for its first nuclear weapon. But in the country’s haste to build a bomb, little thought was given to disposing of the waste. The U.K. government is spending about £2 billion ($2.5 billion) a year at Sellafield to contend with the nuclear waste. A new model of a cleanup robot “will make its own decisions” in dealing with the waste.
The technology already exists to make long haul trucks self-driving. There are 8.7 million trucking-related jobs in the United States. It is easy to understand why the changeover to those autonomous trucks will take time. It is not going to take 50 to 100 years.