Software And Robots Eat Jobs. Now What?

In a story for Vox Monday, Matt Yglesias argues that we shouldn’t be worried about losing our jobs to robots — or to any other kind of sophisticated tech that can do the work of a human. What should worry us, Yglesias suggests, is the possibility that this doesn’t happen.

To Ygelsias, the sluggish productivity gains in the American economy over the past 40 years or so are evidence that the impact of automation on jobs, past, present and future, is a “myth.”

If robots were taking our jobs, the productivity of the workers who still have jobs — the total amount of work that gets done divided by the total number of people who are employed — would be going up rapidly. But it’s not. It is rising, but it’s rising slower than it did in the past.

Yglesias cites the 2015 Economic Report of the President and the annual report from the Council of Economic Advisers, which do indeed show that labor productivity growth has tapered off. He suggests a number of policy changes for adapting to a world with less work, and those proposals are worth debating.

White House Council of Economic Advisors

But Yglesias is wrong to assert that 1) many professions have not been significantly affected by automation and 2) many more won’t be soon. He claims, for example, that for many people, advances in tech have only affected their day-to-day jobs in “relatively superficial ways”: 

These days people are perhaps more likely to book a reservation or order a takeout meal with an app rather than a phone call, but the core work of serving and preparing food has seen very little progress.

Well, maybe. But observe the touch screens in use at your local McDonald’s — or read Dr. Atul Gawande’s 2012 New Yorker story about how the Cheesecake Factory has standardized and modernized its food-prep practices — and you might come to a different conclusion about what technology has already wrought. Then, watch the video of a robot chef embedded below and think about what’s coming in the next few years.  

This machine isn’t just playing the role of a microwave jockey in a fast-food restaurant. It’s producing restaurant-quality fare. The robot chef in this video is a prototype, but technology of this kind could be on the market in just a couple of years, according to the BBC.

Soon, many restaurants will have screens that allow customers to order and pay for their food — which then may or may not be delivered by a human.

Food preparation and food service are just the beginning. Yglesias is right that “we still don’t have robot doctors who can treat patients in lieu of costly and inconvenient human ones.” We can assume that “Dr. Watson” will still be in the waiting room for a few years yet, although IBM’s efforts to apply its software to medicine continue.  

We can also assume, however, that there are many, many people who currently a) work in some kind of customer-service capacity and b) don’t make life-or-death decisions on a daily basis. It’s these kinds of jobs that are most at risk in the decade ahead.

Telemarketers, accountants and retail workers are at the bottom of this chart from The Economist that lists the odds (as calculated by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne, of the University of Oxford) that computerization will lead to job losses in various industries by 2023. Technical writers and real estate agents aren’t far behind.

The Economist

“The advances we’re seeing in artificial intelligence and machine learning will infiltrate the broader economy quickly,” MIT research scientist Andrew McAfee told The Huffington Post last week.

“We’ll see digital customer service representatives before much longer, answering complicated questions, doing troubleshooting and setting up appointments,” he said. “A lot of people make a living today by listening to other people, figuring out what they want and giving that to them. We have always needed a person throughout history for that work.” 

A Japanese hotel run by robots shows what’s already possible. E-discovery software helps law firms to quickly find what they need amid reams of documents — a task that might once have required a room of paralegals to accomplish. Algorithms provide financial advice. And although Yglesias’ position at Vox is probably safe, anyone who does commodity reporting on quarterly results should fear the software that produces financial journalism for the Associated Press. 

The impact of technological advancement on peoples’ job prospects will probably grow. Many (though not all) of the experts surveyed on the future of jobs by the Pew Internet and Life Project last year believe that artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation will imperil white-collar jobs, from media to medicine to finance to law, along with many aspects of the retail, hospitality and customer service industries.

The good news — as The Economist highlighted last year, and as Yglesias himself points out — is that technological innovations have historically delivered more jobs than they have destroyed. My bet, though, is that the wave of automation moving through the world right now is going to replace a lot of labor. That which can be automated will be. 

What we have less insight into is how well the people whose professions become obsolete due to advances in automation will be able to adapt. Detroit was ground zero for these kinds of challenges in the last century. While some kinds of retraining programs hold promise for displaced people, structural unemployment could be in the cards for a great many Americans — factory workers would be just the beginning. If self-driving trucks displace truckers, millions more could join the ranks of the disrupted. There’s a CVS in Washington, D.C. that I’ve been to, where one attendant watches over four automated checkers and provides customer support as needed. I predict we’re going to see a lot more of that kind of thing.

What should we do about the fact that soon, many more people could lose their jobs to automation? In 2012, I wrote about a useful innovation agenda for the next president of the United States. In less than two years, it will fall to someone other than President Barack Obama to grapple with more economic disruption. We should all wish him or her luck in leading the country to help those most affected.

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Dow Jones Industrial Average Closes Above 20K for 1st Time

The Dow Jones industrial average hit a major milestone today, closing above 20,000 points for the first time.

Investors pushed stocks higher after strong earnings reports and the market continued to be buoyed by President Donald Trump’s vow to cut regulations for businesses and slash corporate tax rates.

The Dow gained 155.8 points to close out the trading session at 20,068.51. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq composite joined the Dow in closing at all-time highs.

The benchmark index has staged a remarkable comeback since losing almost half its value after the financial crisis in 2008.

The Dow has been flirting with the 20,000 mark for weeks and has continued to rally since Trump’s election in November.

After erupting in cheers at the crossing of the 20,000-point threshold during the market’s opening bell, some traders at the New York Stock Exchange also donned “Dow 20,000” hats to mark the occasion.

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America’s 20 Fastest-Growing Jobs May Surprise You

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is out with its most recent ranking of the 20 fastest-growing occupations in the U.S.. Coming in at #1, with median pay of $83,580 a year and a growth rate of 53 percent between now and 2022: “Industrial-organizational psychologists.” What the heck is that?

Whatever it is, its growth rate beats that of every other occupation, including personal care aids (49 percent), home health aides (48 percent), diagnostic medical sonographers (46 percent), stonemasons (43 percent), stone masons laying down “segmented paving stones” (38 percent) and the members of 14 other fast-growing occupations.

The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology says its members are versatile scientists “specializing in human behavior in the workplace.” Employers hire them–either in-house or as consultants–because their expertise results in better hires, increased productivity, reduced turnover, and lower labor costs.

Says the BLS, “Industrial-organizational psychologists [I-O psychologists] apply psychology to the workplace by using psychological principles and research methods to solve problems and improve the quality of work life. They study issues such as workplace productivity, management or employee working styles and employee morale. They also work with management on matters such as policy planning, employee screening or training and organizational development.”

In short, you hire I-O psychs to improve the efficiency of your organization. Unlike many other kinds of consultants you might hire, they can show causality between their contribution and improved performance of your business.

Henry Kasper, the BLS supervisor who tracks this occupation, tells ABC News that it’s one of the smallest that BLS follows: There are maybe 1,600 such psychologists. Though their job growth is indeed forecast to be robust, total growth between now and 2022 is only 900 jobs.

Nonetheless, says Kasper, “Companies see they can get a lot of benefit from hiring them (I-O psychologists) on a contract basis. They come in and help improve productivity. The trend is up–and in a pretty significant way. Given it’s so small, you don’t need to add that many jobs to get a massive percentage increase.”

Tracy Kantrowitz, an I-O psychologist and director of R&D for consulting firm SHL, says she wasn’t surprised by BLS’s ranking her profession #1. “It’s consistent with what we’ve seen in recent years,” she tells ABC News. “Applications to grad schools are way up.” A masters degree in psychology or a doctorate are important–if not essential–prerequisites to getting hired, she says.

A number of other fast-growing occupations, as defined by BLS, require no degree and involve far bigger numbers of workers. Personal care aides and home health aides will be needed to care for the ever-swelling tide of aging Baby Boomers. Diagnostic medical sonographers will be in demand because the technology of sonography is advancing rapidly: it provides a way to look inside the body without subjecting it to radiation, as with X-rays.

Certain building trades jobs will advance as that industry recovers, and because these jobs enjoy special advantages within the trade. Segmental pavers will be in demand, says BLS’s Kasper, because prefabricated, interlocking paving stones present a cheaper alternative to concrete.

Herewith, the top 20 fastest-growing occupations between now and 2022, as defined by BLS:



Psychologists, 53 percent: $83,580

Personal care aides, 49 percent: $19,910

Home health aides, 48 percent: $20, 820

Insulation Workers,

Mechanical, 47 percent: $39,170

Interpreters &

Translators, 46 percent: $45,430

Diagnostic medical

sonographers, 46 percent: $65,860


blockmasons, stonemasons

and tile and marble

setters, 43 percent: $28,220

Occupational therapy

assistants, 43 percent: $53,240

Genetic Counselors, 41 percent: $56,800

Physical therapist

assistants, 41 percent: $52,160

Physical therapist

aides, 40 percent: $23,880

Skincare specialists, 40 percent: $28,640


assistants, 38 percent: $90,930

Segmental pavers, 38 percent: $33,720


electricians, 37 percent: $27,670


security analysts, 37 percent: 86,170


therapy aides, 36 percent: $26,850

Health specialties

teachers, post-

secondary, 36 percent: $81,140

Medical secretaries, 36 percent: $31,350

Physical therapist, 36 percent: $79,860

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Di seguito le macchine utensili pubblicate sul portale (14796) in ordine alfabetico di categoria:

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ISIS “industrial” weapons production in Mosul with supply from Turkey revealed as Iraq forces advance

As Iraqi army and allied forces push ISIS militants back from Mosul, their last major stronghold in Iraq, the industrial-scale weapons manufacturing capabilities the group has enjoyed are being revealed.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s weapons production was highly organized and sophisticated, relying on a “robust and reliable” supply chain from across the border in Turkey, according to a report by the London-based Conflict Armament Research group (CAR).

“The degree of organization, quality control and inventory management indicates a complex, centrally controlled industrial production system,” the report found.

CAR executive director James Bevan told the Associated Press that ISIS’ loss of ground around Mosul, where they’ve been beaten back from surrounding towns and villages and squeezed into the city center, means the group has lost the ability to manufacture weapons on an industrial scale.

He warned, however, that the terror group has likely already moved most of its senior weapons experts out of Mosul and into their territory across the border in Syria, so the threat still exists.

Any significant supply route from Turkey, to the north, into Mosul has also likely been cut off or seriously impacted as such a route would have to traverse Kurdish territory along the border, and Kurdish militias are among the allied forces beating ISIS back into the center of Mosul from that direction.

CAR noted, however, that some materials used by ISIS to make bombs and mortars were sourced from as far away as western Europe; Sorbital and sugar used in propellants from France and Lebanon, and potassium nitrate from Latvia, for example.

CAR’s researchers went into reclaimed areas east of Mosul with Iraqi forces and found stocked, labeled and ready-to-ship munitions, reflecting the elaborate production process that enabled ISIS militants to remain on the offensive — with bomb and mortar attacks on population centers and targeting security forces — during their now two-year-old insurgency in northern Iraq and Syria.

U.S. military commanders have expressed confidence that Iraqi forces will retake Mosul in the new year, and they are now focusing efforts with European allies on how to help the Iraqis keep ISIS out of Iraq’s second largest city once the militants are evicted.

© 2016 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Automation for the People: The Public, Technology and Jobs

A 2012 research brief by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee at MIT renewed an old debate over the effect of new technologies on employment levels. They argued that, counter to the prevailing belief that new technologies and automation simply shift jobs into new sectors after a period of disruption, instead rapid improvements in technology over the past decades have left some workers completely behind, a trend that will continue to accelerate as computers capabilities expand. But what does the public think? Do Americans see technological threats to employment, and have their views changed since the days when robots first began replacing line workers in factories? From the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research archive:

More machinery, fewer jobs?

The U.S. public has been asked about the effect of new technologies and automation on jobs since the early fifties, with pollsters showing particular interest in the issue during the high unemployment in the 1980s. Trends through 1999 show that the country is often evenly split on whether greater use of workplace technology increases or decreases employment, with variation in responses both over time and by question wording. One of the most negative responses was a 1983 poll that found 56% disagreed that computers and factory automation will create more jobs than they will eliminate, while only 39% agreed. In contrast, 34% in 1989 believed that scientific and technological changes cause unemployment because people’s jobs are replaced by machines, while 45% said scientific and technological changes increase the total number of jobs over the long run.


Current public opinion leans slightly towards a positive assessment of the effect of technology. A majority in a 2015 CNBC poll said that technology has more benefits than drawbacks to the economy, because it provides services and products to consumers at lower prices, though a substantial minority say that the drawbacks of replacing workers outweigh the benefits. A 2012 Pew poll found that 40% of Americans believe new technologies have increased the number of jobs in the U.S., while 32% think they have decreased the number, and 21% say they’ve made no difference.

The most recent poll on this issue points to potential shifts in public opinion with future technologies. A 2015 Monmouth poll about artificial intelligence found 72% of the public believe having machines with the ability to think for themselves would hurt jobs and the economy, among the most negative responses in the history of polling on the effect of technology on employment.

Specifically, is tech to blame for today’s unemployment

Questions that ask specifically about whether technology is to blame for current unemployment or underemployment have also found the public divided, though in recent years perhaps more inclined to lay substantial responsibility at the feet of automation. In 2013, a question with four-way response categories found 69% of the public put a lot or some of the blame for good paying jobs being hard to find on technology replacing workers.


Overall importance of technology in the economy

However, despite ongoing concern about the effect of technology on employment in particular, Americans have consistently been positive about the effect of technology on the economy overall, and in fact have seen technological innovation and development as vital to the country’s economic interests. For example, a 1983 Cambridge Reports/Research International poll found that 48% strongly agreed and 40% somewhat agreed that the future prosperity of the United States depended on more and better technology. In a 1996 Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard Economy poll, 70% of Americans said the increased use of technology in the workplace was good for the economy. In a 2010 Allstate/National Journal poll, 79% said that information technology was extremely or very important to creating economic growth in the U.S.

So do the unemployed just lack skills?

The public’s generally positive views about the effects of technology on the economy do not necessarily conflict with their willingness to blame for current unemployment on workplace automation. The public may share the views of economists who argue that technology is disruptive in the short-term, but creates jobs in the long run. In this view, unemployment is caused by displaced workers lacking the skills for the newly available jobs, a situation that rights itself with time, training, and education. However, the public does not appear to see this disconnect between skills and jobs as the underlying cause of unemployment.

In a 1982 poll, 51% believed lack of jobs was the main cause of unemployment, only 21% believed it was lack of skills, and 26% that people just didn’t want to work. In 2010, an even greater proportion of the public believed there were no jobs available for the unemployed. Seventy-nine percent of the public said the main cause of unemployment was a lack of jobs, only 12% thought it was people lacking skills, and just 7% that people just don’t want to work.


Despite concerns about the effects of technology on jobs overall, very few people today are concerned about losing their own jobs to technology. In the 1980s, concerns were higher. In a 1984 Hearst Corporation poll, 29% said they were very concerned about computers or robotics threatening their job in the future, and 17% said they were somewhat concerned. A 1993 Gallup/CNN/USA Today poll, however, found only 5% thought technology could eliminate their jobs completely in 5 or 10 years. Over half (56%) believed technology could change the nature of their job, and 38% expected no effect.

Only 13% in a 2015 poll were concerned that their own job could be replaced with technology, at least in the near future. But a 2014 poll of the unemployed found that 30% said technology replacing jobs was at least a minor cause of their unemployment.


As computers take on more and more complex tasks, public opinion on this issue will no doubt continue to be monitored – but by whom? Pollsters, take heed: this NPR job automation assessment tool gives survey researchers a 23% chance of being replaced by machines in the next 20 years.

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Robotics News & Articles – IEEE Spectrum

Robotics News & Articles – IEEE Spectrum


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KAIST's humanoid robot can convert manned aircraft to unmanned aircraft by just sitting in the pilot's seatThis Robot Can Fly a Plane From Takeoff to Landing

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Would You Trust a Robot Surgeon to Operate on You?

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The Neural Network That Remembers

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Premarket Stock Trading – CNNMoney

Premarket Stock Trading – CNNMoney


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Robot helps hospital-bound kids go on ‘virtual’ field trips

When children are diagnosed with cancer, their hospital rooms often become their new homes. Depending on the severity of their disease, these immunosuppressed patients can be cooped up and isolated for months– missing time with their family and friends, not playing outdoors, and refraining from everyday activities like going on field trips.

From the windows at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, pediatric cancer patients can see one of the most kid-friendly places in the U.S.: the St. Louis Science Center.

Because these patients can’t physically visit the museum, Keith Miller, a local computer science professor, concocted a plan to take them there virtually. Miller collaborated with hospital teachers and child life specialists to allow a VGo robot nicknamed Celia to help hospital-bound children break free and virtually leave their hospital rooms to visit the science center.

“It’s something that they can do that any other kid would be doing right now– especially because every school takes a field trip to the science center if you’re in the St. Louis area,” Linda Casper, an on-site school teacher at Children’s, told “So this was one step closer to normalcy for our kids, and it beats doing worksheets any day.”

Using a laptop that is remotely connected to the telepresence robot through Wi-Fi, children can look through Celia’s eye and learn all about the exhibits at the science center.

Ten-year old Amira Evans, who is battling a rare blood and bone marrow cancer, has spent the last three months at Children’s and has a long and aggressive treatment plan ahead of her. She is one of the pediatric cancer patients who has been able to escape her hospital room thanks to Celia.

“She hasn’t been out since the first day we checked in,” Theresa Evans, Amira’s mother, told “We’ve been hoping that she could come home before her second treatment of chemo, but her [blood cell] counts weren’t high enough, so now we have to wait and see if her counts go up to be able to go home before her transplant.”

Because Amira is a high-risk patient– with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML)– she will receive two to three cycles of chemotherapy then a bone marrow transplant.  

“High-risk AML requires several courses of very intense chemotherapy that are targeted to completely get rid of all the leukemia, but, as a side effect, it also completely suppresses her entire bone marrow and her immune system,” Dr. Jeffrey Bednarski, Amira’s pediatric oncologist at the St. Louis Children’s hospital, told

Without a healthy immune system to fight off infection, Amira has to stay in a safe and controlled environment– a place where she won’t be around a lot of people who could potentially pass on a life-threatening infection to her.

On Amira’s big day out with Celia, her face is projected on the front screen on the robot while she drives and navigates the museum’s attractions. She made stops at exhibits like the DB Fossil Prep Lab, where she got to look at real dinosaur fossils. Next, she was off to The Pacific Coral Reef aquarium, where she saw exotic fishes and learned about reefs and ocean ecology.

“I’ve never seen a fish like that before,” Amira exclaimed to her mother.

Educational benefits are only one benefit pediatric cancer patients can gain with Celia’s virtual tour.

“I knew the biggest thing was going to be being able to see and talk to other kids– being the interesting thing that kids want to talk to because you’re a robot, not because all of your hair is falling out,” Casper said. “They’re not curious about their illness; they’re curious about this cool robot– and that just frees the kids in a whole new way.”

Celia costs about $7,000 off the shelf, but prof. Miller donated it to Children’s.

Casper is optimistic that in time they can get Celia to travel with kids to other places like the local zoo and the art museum.

Amira’s first virtual field trip was a success, and she remains positive about her treatment. She has one more cycle of chemotherapy to go before she undergoes a bone marrow transplant.

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Automation is Coming: Stop Whining and Get Prepared

It seems not a day goes by that we don’t hear something about automation and new technologies that are going to replace human jobs. Perhaps it’s a large company like Google, Apple or Tesla working on a self-driving car; a company working on an implantable chip put into the human body to detect a serious disease years before it is even recognizable by modern medicine standards; or a no name guy who rises to fame with a new app that simplifies a difficult and tedious task. The reality is that automation is not some wild fantasy anymore that’s decades down the road. It’s already here and is going to dramatically change life as we know it.

With all the good that’s going to come with automation, we are suddenly faced with a new problem: the elimination of many middle class jobs. Dr. Michael A. Osborne from Oxford University’s Department of Engineering Science and Dr. Carl Benedikt Frey of the Oxford Martin School, estimate that 47 percent of jobs in the U.S. are “at risk” of being automated in the next 20 years. They say jobs that have already been severely impacted by computers (manufacturing, administrative support, retail, and transportation) will continue to diminish. Furthermore, they believe routine-based jobs (telemarketing, sewing) and work that can be solved by smart algorithms (tax preparation, data entry keyers and insurance underwriters) are most likely to be eliminated.

If you think income disparity is a problem in the United States now, watch what happens when many middle class jobs start disappearing. Is some form of socialism or equal sharing going to solve it? No chance. What about raising the tax rate to 90 percent or more? That might work if you were talking about subsidizing the poor, but it will never be enough to support America’s middle and upper class, people with solid paying jobs who make up roughly 70% of the population.

The solution

People are mixed over automation. Some are excited and on the edge of their seats waiting for the next big breakthrough. Others, however, aren’t as enthralled. The fact of the matter is, no matter what you think about it, you’re not going to have a choice. Rather than whine, complain or trying to fight it, it’s time to embrace it because it’s inevitable, and might very well replace your job.

What is the solution? As hockey great Wayne Gretzky said, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” If your job is one of those that might very well be replaced, it’s crucial that you find ways to work with automation rather than against it.

Here’s my three-step solution for middle class America to be ready for the automation age.

1. Serve

If you’re not the next Elon Musk, the best thing you can do is learn to serve people like Musk who are inventing and leading us into the automation generation. The founders of this revolution are the mega wealthy, and we’re not talking about the top 1%. These are people who make the top 1% seem poor. They are the ones who own a fleet of private jets, yachts and even their own islands.

Serving the wealthy is always a good way to make money, and this is especially true as it relates to automation. Problem solving is the fastest way to build wealth, so ask yourself: what problems are people like Elon musk and other innovators going to face? How can I serve these people? What skills and talents do I have that they are going to need?

2. Support

First there were the big mainframe computers of the 1970s. Then the personal computer started to become commonplace in homes across America in the 1980s. And of course, the invention of the internet changed life as we know it in the late 1990s. The one thing all of these milestones have in common is they all needed support in order to survive. The people who acquired the necessary skills to support computers did very well for themselves. It didn’t matter if it was learning to write code, repair or service computers, design websites or serve as a technology consultant. Big opportunity was everywhere and many people accumulated great amounts of wealth as a result.

The automation generation is no different, and is going to need major support. You can’t wait until the technology is already here and used by everyone. The time to obtain the skills to support these systems is now.

Automation and technology are wonderful, but when things go wrong, they tend to go really wrong. We’ve already seen what can happen when technology that we take for granted goes astray. How many times have we heard about an airline computer system breaking down? The result is massive delays and headaches for millions of travelers. Or what happens when the electricity goes out? It turns our lives upside down.

No matter what the new technology is, it’s going to need repairs when it breaks. It’s going to need regular maintenance and support. It’s going to need updates and adjustments. And this is great news for humans because it’s going to be the opportunity of a lifetime. Of course, the key is you have to know how to support these systems. So while many middle class jobs are in jeopardy and are going to eventually be cut, on the flip side, there’s going to be so much opportunity like never before. I believe we’re going to see more new millionaires than we’ve ever seen in this country as a result.

3. Sell

Salespeople are the backbone of any organization, and there’s going to be huge opportunities to bring people together with products and services in the automation age. Who’s going to sell the automation? Who’s going to market it? The beauty of living in a capitalistic society means competition, and those who can connect the buyers and sellers and close the deals are looking at opportunities like never before.

Of course, any successful salesperson is only as good as the people and products behind him. Therefore, huge opportunities are also going to exist in marketing, public relations, advertising, photography, video production, graphic design, writing, editing and more.

The bottom line: automation is about to change the course of the world as we know it. It’s going to be a great disruptor and impact middle class workers like nothing we’ve seen before. You have two choices: sit around and become a victim, or get excited and jump in the game while it’s still early. America was built on innovation. Think of things like the railroad system, the assembly line, the highway system, the internet and more. Are you ready to become the next great innovator and continue the tradition? Or are you going to let the automation age sneak up on you and make your life a living nightmare? The choice is yours.

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