Gates: Software to replace millions of human jobs in 20 years

In 20 years, many low skill jobs will be gone, replaced by software automation, says Bill Gates. Worse, businesses and governments aren't ready to face the new labor market.

Business Insider:

Big changes are coming to the labor market that people and governments aren't prepared for, Bill Gates believes.

Speaking at Washington, D.C., economic think tank The American Enterprise Institute on Thursday, Gates said that within 20 years, a lot of jobs will go away, replaced by software automation ("bots" in tech slang, though Gates used the term "software substitution").

This is what he said:

"Software substitution, whether it's for drivers or waiters or nurses … it's progressing. ...  Technology over time will reduce demand for jobs, particularly at the lower end of skill set. ...  20 years from now, labor demand for lots of skill sets will be substantially lower. I don’t think people have that in their mental model."

He's not the only one predicting this gloomy scenario for workers. In January, the Economist ran a big profile naming over a dozen jobs sure to be taken over by robots in the next 20 years, including telemarketers, accountants and retail workers.

Gates believes that the tax codes are going to need to change to encourage companies to hire employees, including, perhaps, eliminating income and payroll taxes altogether. He's also not a fan of raising the minimum wage, fearing that it will discourage employers from hiring workers in the very categories of jobs that are most threatened by automation.

Twenty years ago, some other soothsayer could have said the same thing about robots. Indeed, robotic machines have eliminated millions of manufacturing jobs and other positions where repetitive motion used to be performed by humans.

Now the robots will get smart and eliminate some jobs that you used to need a college education for.

Perhaps we should worry about getting robot insurance. You just never know when one of those big metal beasts will attack and take your job.