Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a business futurist specializing in business trends including the artificial intelligence and blockchain, both of which will displace millions of jobs in the coming 10 or 20 years. Robotic process automation (RPA) and “the future of work” will change dramatically due to robotics, algorithms and analytics. Patrick is the author of the award-winning book Anarchy, Inc.: Profiting in a Decentralized World with Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain (2018, Authority Publishing) and a regular speaker for Bloomberg TV. The primary job categories currently at risk include:
- Call center workers, phone bank employees (social bots, NLP, Google Duplex, etc.)
- Retail cashiers (Amazon Go stores, self-checkout kiosks, personless bank in China)
- Commercial drivers and truck drivers (autonomous vehicles, self-driving long-haul trucks)
In the United States, call center workers account for 3M jobs, retail cashiers account for 3.4M jobs, and commercial drivers account for 3.5 million jobs. That totals almost 10 million jobs, and most of them will be displaced before 2030. Many of the job losses have already begun. It will lead to increasing anarchy within our society (hence, the title of his latest book). He has lectured at various academic institutions including Stanford and Purdue Universities. Patrick’s focus on disruptive innovation and exponential technologies provides perspective for attendees and allows them to see the larger movement that they are (often unknowingly) a part of.
Past speaking clients include:
Recent speaking destinations include:
Expert on the Future of Work
The economy basically consists of (1) manual jobs and (2) cognitive jobs. Within each category, there are (a) repetitive tasks and (b) non-repetitive tasks. Using that model, we can assume that the repetitive manual tasks will eventually be replace by robotics, and repetitive cognitive tasks will eventually be replace by algorithms. An Oxford study suggests that 47% of jobs within the USA are at risk of being replaced by automation. Combining this study with our model, we can extrapolate that 47% of jobs in our economy are inherently repetitive, and those jobs will be displaced. We can then sort the list of repetitive tasks by their respective levels of complexity. Since technology is essentially climbing a ladder of complexity, it makes sense that the simple repetitive tasks will be automated before the complex repetitive tasks. These models make it easier for business executives to anticipate innovation. It’s a lot easier to find something when you know what you’re looking for.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is playing a major role in the emerging job losses. According to a study by the Hackett Group, the number of finance employees per billion in revenue is ALREADY down by 40% over the past 10 years. These are white collar accounting and finance jobs. The notion that these job losses will be limited to blue-collar jobs is completely false. Managerial white-collar jobs are being replaced at an astonishing rate. Sophisticated ERP and CRM platforms, along with countless enterprise software solutions, are doing more and more of the work, leaving fewer tasks for human workers. The net result is that humans need to develop non-repetitive agile skills (for manual jobs) and creativity (for cognitive jobs). Jobs that are safe from automation will require agility, creativity, communication, and problem solving skills.
Job displacement is the individual equivalent to disruptive innovation at the enterprise level. Technologies including robotic process automation, big data, the Internet of things, artificial intelligence and blockchain, combined with exponential progress in the digital age, will have a dramatic impact on the value of human capital in the years ahead.
Job Displacement Keynote Speech
Automation promises to eliminate 10+ million jobs in the USA within the next few years. That will deliver huge efficiencies (fewer salaries) to corporations, thereby increasing profits and returns to investors and shareholders. It will also increase the consistency of service and safety within affected job categories. The result will be more efficient markets with optimized and intuitive user experiences. On the other hand, these changes will reduce the value of human labor and leave millions without jobs. These people (call center workers, retail cashiers, and truck drivers) are notoriously difficult to retrain. As such, they will have to find other things to do, and there’s very little evidence that they will be successful in that pursuit. On a macro scale, it may lead to a situation where the general population will not be able to afford the products and services being offered.
There are some great books on the topic of job displacement, robotics, and automation, including the following:
- Rise of the Robots by Marin Ford
- The Second Machine Age by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee
- The Industries of the Future by Alec Ross
- The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly