Technology Poses a Threat to Middle-Class Jobs

Has the idea of technology taking over the jobs of millions of assembly line workers ever frightened you? Or maybe technology being used to file papers, ticket speeding cars, or checkout your groceries? These are still valid concerns, but technology is now moving beyond low-level tasks and posing a threat to high-skilled jobs as well, according to a recent NPR article.

You might remember earlier this year when Watson, the Jeopardy-playing computer by IBM, became the champion after beating his human co-contestants. He was back at the podium again this week when he went against two teams from MIT and Harvard and kept his champion status.

The advancing technology that allows computers like Watson to play and win Jeopardy has created a new worry for people in higher skilled positions. For example, in legal work, computers are being used to do preliminary reading of volumes of documents that should take the reading power of 500 lawyers.

In the article, David Autor, an MIT economist, said technology had the power to eliminate jobs that were physically hard, dangerous, or monotonous. Technology has also arguably improved people’s quality of life with better health care. Humans are still better at doing a lot of low-level jobs, like janitorial work, and high-skilled jobs, like medial practitioners. However, technology is squeezing out the middle-class by being more efficient at things like depositing checks, printing boarding passes, and updating insurance plans.

What are your feelings on the technology in the workforce? Has your job been effected positively or negatively by technology?



“How Technology Is Eliminating Higher-Skill Jobs,” by Chris Arnold. 3 November 2011. NPR. Accessed on 4 November 2011.

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