Stunning Progress in Technology Brings The Death of Unskilled Labor

As part of the online web series Which Way Next, hosted by Singularity University, Vivek Wadhwa, VP of Academics and Innovation, sat down with Carl Bass, CEO at Autodesk, to explore some of the pivotal technologies coming online that promise to redefine the jobs available to humans in the 21st Century. Check out the video below:
During the discussion, Bass points out that we are now at a great inflection point in the automation of labor. Extraordinary breakthroughs in the areas of artificial intelligence, robotics, and digital manufacturing are all converging upon one another yielding a world full of technologies plucked right from the world of science fiction.
To date, the damage to the U.S. manufacturing industry caused by outsourcing was mainly an issue of cost. What the developed world might consider labor camp conditions is desirable work that is competed for overseas. In China for example, work that consists of highly repetitive tasks for 12 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week pays only $200 per month in salary. Now the much bigger problem is that even these jobs are disappearing, not because of outsourcing but because of total automation by machine.
According to Bass, the notion that you can easily enjoy a middle class lifestyle with a high school education and a strong work ethic is just not true in today’s labor market, and may never be true again. The nature of work available to humans is fundamentally evolving, and doing so overnight.
Robotics as a technology is far from new, but is ready to displace hundreds of millions of employees around the globe. Canon recently announced plans to entirely phase out human labor in many of their factories over the next few years, while Amazon just doled out $775 million to acquire the robotics company Kiva, with plans to fully automate their warehouse operations. The next camera you buy could be fabricated by the hands of machines and delivered to your doorstep care of your friendly neighborhood delivery bot.