(Flash thought as I am listening to Erik Brynjolfsson and Andy McAfee talk about Race Against the Machine at the MIT Center for Digital Business research conference – an excellent event, by the way.)
The core issue identified in Race Against the Machine is that technology improves faster than humans. Consequently, a rising number of people get automated out of a job. Previously, that has not been a long-term problem, because new industries have sprung up to hire. Now, however, the new industries hire very few people (haven’t checked the facts, but someone said that Facebook, Google, Twitter and Amazon collectively have about 100,000 employees, which is the job growth needed per month to keep up with population growth in the US workforce.)
So – we need to find new areas where we can hire lots of people, to do jobs that, at least as of now cannot be automated.
Here is my tongue-in-cheek solution:
1. The US has a rising (or, perhaps, expanding) obesity problem.
2. Obesity is expensive, since obese people disproportionately consume health care.
3. Take all the unemployed, sort them into a) thin and b) thick.
4. Hire group a) to be personal coaches to group b).
5. Pay for it with the savings in health costs.
Great, job done. Now for some real work…
(On a serious note, first-line health care is probably an area that could consume a lot of workers. On the other hand, it will also experience many job losses – health care is vastly inefficient in the US now, primarily because it is so cumbersome to administrate and pay for.)
Update 5/24: I was wrong – personalized weight loss coaching is now available as an app.