It is hard to know what the future holds. It is especially hard when it comes to predicting how technology is going to change the future.
Everyone is worried about losing their job. This episode of Freakonomics is all about exploring the question, how safe is your job, and it goes into a lot of interesting issues.
The one constant in regards to this is the inability of people to imagine the jobs of the future. Ever since the beginning of the industrial revolution people have been predicting a future of leisure. Technology and automation were going to take care of so many functions that most people would only be working 20 hours per week. Of course if there is one thing humanity is good at it is finding things to do.
The worry today is that we are not finding good, quality things to do as fast as we are destroying current quality jobs. A large number of the jobs created since the recession have been low wage services work. These are things that do not lend themselves to automation but require very little skill.
Peter Thiel touches on this in his book “Zero to One” that I bring up so often. He actually does not think we live in a time of very much innovation. Though the technology sector is changing rapidly, many other industrial sectors have not dramatically changed in decades. The time and cost to travel from one side of the country to the other is basically the same as it was 30 or more years ago. Most people still get their electricity from the same place as their parents or grandparents.
After the President spent a lot of the State of the Union talking about the middle class economy, the stage is being set to make these issues central to the next election.