Andrew Yang told us last year that machines are coming for “the most common jobs in the economy,” from retail to truck driving. A 2019 Brookings report found that in the U.S., better-paid, better-educated workers face the most exposure to automation.
Coming for, exposure…what does it actually mean? For some, unemployment. But plenty of workers will interact with machines as collaborators, not competition.
Cobots, or robots that can work safely and directly with humans, are becoming a reality: Robotics startup Dexterity says its cobots have helped ship half-a-million units of packaged food, for instance. Even before the pandemic accelerated demand for automation, the global cobot market was projected to approach $1 billion in 2020.
Bottom line: Automation poses a real threat, particularly for older and lower-income workers for whom reskilling presents a bigger hurdle. But the idea that “robots will replace us all” is an oversimplification.