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Automation, Creative Destruction, and Your Job in Technology’s Crosshairs

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Rew McAfee of the MIT Sloan School of Management recently visited Big Think to discuss a subject that’s sure to fill readers with glee: robots destroying your jobs!

The median American worker has a lot to fear, says McAfee, especially if they do what is described as “Routine knowledge work.” Those jobs exist in the sweet spot where technology is making its greatest inroads.

McAfee employs two examples of professions that are feeling pressure from automation: tax preparers and lawyers. Each is a high-skill job that requires advance education and mastery of policy, formulas, and research.

“The constituency that’s most negatively affected is the body of tax preparers out there. These are folk who are actually above-average educated. They’ve been to college. They’ve been to an advanced degree. They’ve got a CPA. They’ve done the right thing. They’ve invested their human capital in an area they thought would lead to a long and productive career. And all of a sudden, here comes a $40 piece of software that’s putting a lot of downward pressure on their wages.”

A basic summary of creative destruction is as follows: as innovation occurs and revolutionary new technologies are introduced, former industrial structures will be dismantled with new ones constructed to take their place.

If computers wipe out the last of the tax preparers, a new breed of workers will emerge.


Article originally posted at

Post Author: Meghan Rosen

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