During the past two weeks, I have encountered 2 articles that discusses the upcoming impact of artificial intelligence on the nature of work. In particular, both negates the common wisdom of learning STEM skills to inoculate you from the impact. Right now, someone is building a machine intelligence that will be able to do scientific research and come up with theories. I don't know where I read it but the new intelligence has been successful at coming up with theories much quicker than regular scientists. So if machine intelligence can beat out scientists because it can peruse data much more quickly and calculate math and logic much more quickly than a regular human being can, then machine intelligence will be able to code itself. And that is what it is starting to do now. So science jobs, engineering jobs, software coding jobs, at least the lower end, will be impacted.
As a matter of fact, ask yourself, when have you used algebra, geometry or trigonometry? Probably never since high school, if you didn't go into engineering.
To the right is a picture of a "graph" from Wired magazine showing 6 kinds of jobs and the probable impact of automation. As you can see, nurses are likely to still be held by humans because those jobs deals with human interactions. On the other end of the scale, practically 100% of the telemarketer jobs will be automated. Maybe it is because those jobs are performed with scripted lines and so there is not much variation in selling. Airline pilots will be most likely still held by humans, mainly because the idea of turning over a plane 100% to software is just too scary. But construction and taxi drivers will be mostly automated. Programmers fall just a bit under 50% automated. So high end programming (such as those in Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook) will still be around, but I think most people you know fall in the mid to lower end of programming. So that's "good-bye, good jobs".
From Wired Magazine, February 2017, p. 52 - "What Lies Ahead - 49 Trends that Will Shape the Very Near Future"
To the left is a link to a YouTube video where Mark Cuban talks to Bloomberg about Trump and the future of jobs. The first seven and a half minutes focuses more on Trump but after that, he starts to talk about how the "nature of work is changing." The big take away from his discussion is that being a programmer may be a good job now but in 5 to 10 years, it may not because "automation is being automated". So if you are a Python programmer, in 5 to 10 years, your job may be disrupted. Trump's promise to bring back manufacturing jobs is not going to lead to more employment. What's going to come back are automated plants. And in fact, that is what is happening now - plants are coming back but they are highly automated and so do not need as much people.
So does Mark Cuban have an answer? His answer is to change the nature of Americorp where the pay is $30K instead of $12K, funding for Americorp is dramatically increased to help with employment and folks go out to schools to teach. I don't think that's the total answer but it could very well be a part of a package of answers.
So majoring in STEM type careers may not do you much good when you graduate in 5 to 10 years. Mark Cuban says that it's likely that liberal arts degree will become more valuable than a programming degree. It's harder to sell yourself with a liberal arts degree but it provides you with a set of tools on how to think.
So all of you folks whose jobs will be disrupted: you are going to have to think about what to do next.