Tech advances could eliminate the majority of current jobs

Apr 09, 2014, 09:45 ET from Issues in Science and Technology

DALLAS, April 9, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Review of current research in robotics and information technology by Stuart W. Elliott of the National Research Council in the spring edition of Issues in Science and Technology indicates that within the next ten to twenty years a combination of technologies will be capable of performing the jobs of as many as 80% of current workers. We have seen workforce changes on this scale in agriculture and manufacturing before, but never at this pace. The critical question raised in "Anticipating a Luddite Revival" is whether our social systems can adapt quickly enough to the disruption that technology can cause. If this means that the economy will need to create more highly skilled jobs that cannot be done by machines, Elliott asks whether we have the ability to train enough people capable of performing at this high level.

Technological change will also present challenges for individuals in their private lives. In "A Survival Plan for the Wild Cyborg" Rinie van Est of the Rathenau Institute in the Netherlands proposes a set of principles that will help us maintain our essential humanity as we gradually take on the characteristics of cyborgs.

Political conservatives have been vehement opponents of liberal proposals for government action to combat climate change, but they have been criticized for not articulating an alternative strategy. Steven F. Hayward, a visiting scholar at the University of Colorado, accepts the challenge with a critique of scientific arrogance and an approach built on fundamental democratic principles.

The U.S. position as the undisputed global leader in science is being threatened by constrained financial support at home and rising research investments abroad, particularly in China. University of Michigan sociologist Yu Xie assesses the current position of the United States, and Jumbo Yu of Jilin University in Changchun, China, takes a critical look at China's plan to become a force at the forefront of science.

Ohio State University policy scholar explores the management challenges that confront the new breed of bridging institutions created to strengthen the connection between university research and commercial innovation.

This edition of Issues also includes its first piece of science fiction. Novelist and University of California astrophysicist Gregory Benford explores what might happen if we decide to experiment with geoengineering the climate.

ISSUES IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY is the award-winning journal of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, The University of Texas at Dallas and Arizona State University.

Contact: Kevin Finneran 202-641-1415

SOURCE Issues in Science and Technology