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."
These Teen Geniuses are on a Path to Change the World
He's barely old enough to shave... but Jack Andraka is already hard at work helping America win the war on cancer.
Just last month, the Baltimore-area whiz kid took top honors at a key contest hosted by Silicon Valley legend Intel Corp. (NasdaqGS: INTC). He invented a low-cost, cutting-edge cancer screen that could save thousands of lives every year.
Andraka now ranks as a rising star and radical change agent who could have a huge impact on high tech and medicine. He also pocketed a cool $100,000 in prize money.
And all at the ripe old age of 15...
He's one of the reasons why I say it pays to remain upbeat about America's future. He and these six other youngsters I'm about to tell you about demonstrate how much innate talent we have in this country, and I believe that's one reason why we can't help but succeed in the long run.
Don't get me wrong. America faces big challenges - rising debt, chronic job losses, and political gridlock, to name but a few.
Yet we're also the one country that steadily produces bright young entrepreneurs who change the world around them. Where others see obstacles, these teens see opportunities.
They go on to launch the Googles, Apples, and Microsofts of the world, and they leave a trail of wealth behind them.
As investors, we want to spot this talent before others do. That's how we maintain the inside edge that vaults us ahead of the pack when new investment opportunities come along.
Fact is, kids today may not be any smarter than the Edisons and Fords of their day. But in the Era of Radical Change, they have the tools - sensors, computers, software and more - that scientists of old could only dream about.
Today, I want to introduce you to the seven young geniuses who are pushing the limits of science and high tech.
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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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