Fernando Alcoforado *
In The Second Machine Age, the authors argue that the combination of massive computing power with comprehensive networks, machine learning, digital mapping, and the “Internet of Things” are producing a complete industrial revolution in same scale as the transformations caused by steam energy and electricity. Boston Consulting Group predicts that by 2025, up to a quarter of jobs will be replaced by softwares or robots, while a study by the University of Oxford in the UK points out that 35% of current jobs in the country run the risk of being automated in the next two decades (BRYNJOLFSSON, Erik and McAFEEE, Andrew, The second machine age, New York: Norton paperback, 2016).
Udo Gollub, CEO and founder of Sprachenlemen24 in Munich, gave a lecture at Messe Berlin at the University of Singularity when he presented technology forecasts available on the website <https://www.facebook.com/udo.gollub/posts/10207978845381135>, if they are confirmed will strengthen the Informational or Post-Industrial Revolution that we experience. In short, Udo Gollub states that: 1) the software will shred most traditional activities in the next 5-10 years as the UBER has been doing with the taxi service; 2) Artificial Intelligence such as IBM’s WATSON can offer legal advice (for now on more or less basic subjects) within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared to 70% accuracy when done by humans; 3) by 2030, computers will become smarter than humans; 4) in 2018, the first vehicles will be driven automatically; 5) Around 2020, the traditional auto industry will begin to be demolished, and most car manufacturers could fail because technology companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will embrace the revolutionary tactics by building a computer on wheels; 6) electric cars will become dominant by 2020; and 7) the price of solar energy will fall so that all coal miners will cease their activities around 2025.
Udo Gollub adds that: 8) there will be an impact on the health area because we will have companies that will build a medical device (called Tricorder in the Star Trek series) that works with your phone, scan your retina, test your sample of blood and analyzes your breathing (breathalyzer). It will analyze 54 bio-markers that will identify virtually any disease; 9) The price of the cheapest 3D printer dropped from US$ 18,000 to US$ 400 in 10 years and became 100 times faster; 10) 70-80% of jobs will disappear in the next 20 years; 11) by 2020, there will be an application called moodies that is already able to tell in what mood the person is and can know if the person is lying by their facial expressions; 12) Bitcoin (virtual money) may become dominant in 2020 and may even become standard reserve currency; 13) around 2036, people will be able to live well for more than 100 years; and, 14) by 2020, 70% of all humans will have a smartphone.
The professions most threatened by robots, according to Wakefield, are taxi drivers, factory workers, journalists, doctors, lawyers, office clerks, merchandise delivery jobs, police officers, etc [WAKEFIELD, Jane. Quais profissões estão ameaçadas pelos robôs? (What professions are threatened by robots?) Available on the website <http://www.bbc.com/portuguese/noticias/2015/09/150914_profissoes_robos_lgb>]. Taxi drivers around the world are threatened by Uber as drivers in general by vehicle manufacturers that are already manufacturing units that do not require the presence of the driver. Factory workers are threatened because assembly lines are being increasingly automated. The profession of journalist is threatened because in the near future, reports will no longer be written by journalists, but by software capable of collecting data and transforming it into minimally comprehensible texts. Doctors are threatened because some medical procedures are done more quickly by robots that are already helping doctors to perform surgeries. Office workers are already being replaced by smart machines that perform countless of their tasks. Workers engaged in the delivery of goods will be replaced by drones or vehicles without a driver. Police and military will be replaced by robots.
In 2013, researchers at Oxford University published a detailed study of the impact of computing on employment in the United States, considering recent advances in machine learning and mobile robots. They analyzed each of the professional categories cataloged by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics based on a database of skills required to perform those jobs. The researchers concluded that 47% of current jobs are at high risk of automation in the coming years and decades and another 19% at medium risk. They consider that only a third of current workers are saved from replacement in the next one or two decades.
Researchers at Oxford University have concluded that the blue-collar professions most likely to be replaced by automation are as follows: (1) sewer diggers; 2) watch repairers; 3) machine operators; 4) tellers; 5) shipping, receiving and traffic clerks; 6) drivers; 7) inspectors, testers, sorters, and samplers; 8) projectionists; 9) cashiers; 10) grinders and polishers; 11) farm laborers; 12) lobby attendants, ticket takers; 13) cooks; 14) gaming dealers; 15) locomotive engineers; 16) counter attendants; 17) postal clerks; 18) landscapers and groundskeepers; 19) electrical and electronic equipment assemblers; and 20) print binding and finishing workers. The professions least susceptible to automation among the blue-collars are as follows: 1) recreational therapists; 2) audiologists; 3) occupational therapists; 4) orthotists and prosthetists; 5) choreographers; 6) phisicians and surgeons; 7) dentists and orthodontists; 8) athletic trainers; 9) foresters; 10) registered nurses; 11) makeup artists; 12) pharmacists; 13) coaches and scouts; 14) physical therapists; 15) photographers; 16) chiropractors; 17) veterinarians; 18) fine artists and craft artists; 19) floral designers; and, 20) fabric and apparel patternmakers.
Researchers at Oxford University have concluded that the professions requiring intellectual work (white collar work) most likely to be replaced by automation are: 1) tax preparers; 2) title examiners; 3) insurance underwriters and claims processors; 4) data entry and brokerage clerks; 5) loan officers; 6) credit analyst; 7) bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks; 8) payroll clerks; 9) file clerks; 10) switchboard operators; 11) benefit managers; 12) library assistants; (13) nuclear power reactor operators; 14) budget analyst; 15) technical writers; 16) medical transcriptionists; 16) cartographers; 17) proofreaders; 18) word processors and typists. The professions less susceptible to automation among white-collars are as follows: 1) computer systems analysts; 2) engineers; 3) multimedia artists and animators; 4) computer and information research scientists; 5) chief executives; 6) composers; 7) fashion designers; 8) photographers; 8) database administrators; 9) purchasing managers; 10) lawyers; 11) writers and authors; 12) software developers; 13) mathematicians; 14) editors; 15) graphic designers; 16) air traffic controllers; 17) sound engineers; and, 18) desktop publishers.
Technological progress will inevitably produce three consequences: 1) the decline in consumption or general demand for goods and services due to the increase in unemployment and the reduction of the purchasing power of the working population; (2) the decline of the middle class with major implications of a political nature, since it acts as an ally of the bourgeoisie in its confrontation with the proletariat; and (3) the weakening of the struggle of the trade unions and of the class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. All that has just been reported will have a negative impact on the world of work because it may lead to an end to employment, but it will lead the world to political, economic and social chaos at the national and global levels that will accelerate the end of capitalism as a world system in the mid of the 21st century as a result of their declining yields (trend decline in world GDP- Gross Domestic Product growth and in profit rate). The proletariat would cease to be the messiah of humanity as advocated by Marx. The decline of the middle class where white-collar workers are located puts in question its social ascent, whose marginalized and frustrated members together with the proletariat can become powerful forces at the service of social change for the benefit of all society or mass maneuver of fascism that benefits the ruling classes.
* Fernando Alcoforado, 78, member of the Bahian Academy of Education and the Brazilian Academy of Letters of Rotary – Bahia Section, engineer and doctor in Territorial Planning and Regional Development by the University of Barcelona, university professor and consultant in the areas of strategic planning, business planning, regional planning and planning of energy systems, is the author of the books Globalização (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 1997), De Collor a FHC (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 1998), Um Projeto para o Brasil (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 2000), Os Condicionantes de Desenvolvimento do Estado da Bahia (PhD Thesis, University of Barcelona, http: //www.tesisenred.net/handle/10803/1944, 2003), Globalização e Desenvolvimento (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 2006), Bahia- Desenvolvimento da Bahia do Século XVI ao Século XX e Objetivos Estratégicos na Era Contemporânea (EGBA, Salvador, 2008), The Necessary Conditions of the Economic and Social Development- The Case of the State of Bahia (VDM Verlag Dr. Müller Aktiengesellschaft & Co. KG, Saarbrücken, Germany, 2010), Aquecimento Global e Catástrofe Planetária (Viena- Editora e Gráfica, Santa Cruz do Rio Pardo, São Paulo, 2010), Amazônia Sustentável- Para o progresso do Brasil e combate ao aquecimento global (Viena- Editora e Gráfica, Santa Cruz do Rio Pardo, São Paulo, 2011), Os Fatores Condicionantes do Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (Editora CRV, Curitiba, 2012), Energia no Mundo e no Brasil- Energia e Mudança Climática Catastrófica no Século XXI (Editora CRV, Curitiba, 2015), As Grandes Revoluções Científicas, Econômicas e Sociais que Mudaram o Mundo (Editora CRV, Curitiba, 2016) e A Invenção de um novo Brasil (Editora CRV, Curitiba, 2017).