Robots taking jobs from manufacturing workers is a trend dating back decades, but rapidly advancing software has spread the threat of job-killing automation to nearly every occupation.
The technological advances, while helping businesses boost productivity dramatically, have cost the U.S. economy millions of jobs.
An investigation by the Associated Press found that most of the millions of jobs lost to the Great Recession did not migrate overseas, but simply disappeared - victims of smart robots and improvements to software that have made many jobs obsolete.
"The jobs that are going away aren't coming back," Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist at the Center for Digital Business at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-author of "Race Against the Machine," told the Associated Press. ''I have never seen a period where computers demonstrated as many skills and abilities as they have over the past seven years."
But while many have blamed the bulk of the job losses on the bad economy, the impact of automation on the U.S. workforce will just keep getting worse.
According to a story in Wired, 70% of the jobs that exist today will vanish by the end of the century.
"Everything that humans can do, a machine can do," Moshe Vardi, a computer scientist at Rice University, told the Associated Press. "Things are happening that look like science fiction."
Why Ford (NYSE: F) Wants to Put a Robot in Your Driver's Seat
There is a cutting edge technology that could save the lives of up to 10 million people around the world over the next decade.
If you drive a car, one of them might just be you.
Car crashes kill about 1.2 million people worldwide each year. And let's face it, drivers are getting worse -- not better.
Between texting, mobile e-mail and glitzy in-dash graphics, today's drivers are more distracted than ever.
In fact, more than 90 percent of all auto accidents are caused by driver error.
That's one of the reasons why Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) is taking the lead in producing robotic cars.
In other words, it won't be long before you can put your car on "auto pilot."
A Radical Change for Drivers
Technically speaking, though, the robot wouldn't actually drive the car for you.
Instead, the vehicle will be cram-packed with advanced sensors, computer chips, radar and software.
Together, all these gadgets are designed to take over driving at critical times, such as when a driver wanders out of his lane.
These autonomous features could also help combat the boredom many of today's drivers suffer in urban centers when they are stuck in traffic nearly an hour each day.
That's not to say that today's cars are unsafe.
Compared to vehicles from 20 years ago, today's feature-rich cars and trucks are practically like space capsules. A series of breakthroughs in design and materials have made cars safer and more sophisticated than ever before.
And yet the roads really aren't that much safer.
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