"It is what it is,” as I tell my kids when they argue about something they don't like but will happen anyway. Automation is here to stay. Our economic development institutions, businesses, and think tanks remind us that fewer workers will be employed on factory floors. Furthermore, there's a factoid that resonated with me: a McKinsey study shows that 51% of the jobs in our economy, including white-collar jobs, could be automated with existing technologies. Even more, there's some level of certainty that 38% of the jobs WILL be automated by 2030.
I am, like you, concerned about the future, but I'm also hopeful and excited about the possibilities that will emerge because of this wave of automation. The 4th Industrial Revolution will impact the way we live (I'm in my fifties, so it will affect me and my children's way of life).
It wasn't long ago that Bill Gates discussed his rationale that robots should pay taxes since replacing jobs. One could argue that they don't get paid, and the productivity associated with having one robot doing the job that five employees do today boosts business and economic growth. However, inevitably, we will have fewer "people" contributing to our taxes when we see corporate taxes going down, and my argument goes even further: what happens to individual contributions to our communities, as volunteers or as donors? How will we replace employee giving if our "human workforce" is drastically and suddenly reduced?
I posit that we should start thinking about the civic duties of an automated society and how "giving back" needs to continue being a priority to build strong and resilient communities. Humans will have fewer jobs to choose from (our poor and low-income populations could significantly and suddenly increase). In contrast, charities will have fewer individual donors and fewer publicly funded supports to care for the most vulnerable. More productivity, less giving back, and more need.
I'm not sure I would "tax" automation. Still, we certainly should expect that companies play a much more significant and proactive role in being part of the solution for vulnerable communities. "Building communities" should become a top strategic cause for businesses. If we don't have humans to volunteer or give, companies will have to help find ways to take care of the most vulnerable members of our community.
Be part of the solution and not part of the problem. While automating your workforce, remember the role "human employees" used to play in your community with their