Time for a dose of optimism…
I was fortunate enough to catch the most recent James Altucher podcast where he interviewed George Gilder, in an episode titled “How to think like a futurist”.
Gilder is a guy I follow closely and respect immensely. Way, way back he was part of this Forbes Magazine half magazine called Forbes ASAP. This focused on most things technology. Think Popular Mechanics but all technology focused without the leftist slant. It was fascinating.
Gilder is also heavily involved with the Discovery Institute which is a group I absolutely adore and hope to one day be able to donate tons of money to. (Be advised “tons of money” is subjective. Tons of money to me may not mean tons of money to you. After all, I’ve got 4 kids!)
In this podcast Gilder talks about his recent book Life After Google which I have yet to read but if Gilder writes it, it WILL be read.
One of Gilder’s premises is this fear of technology and the prevailing idea that we’ll all be put out of work by robots. It’s Luddite thinking, he says. And I happen to agree with him.
It’s SO easy to see what WON’T be there, i.e., the guy stacking boxes at Walmart when the robots do replace that work. But it’s next to impossible to see what that guy will do instead. Why? Because we simply don’t know.
In economics this is one of the problems of the free-marketeers in advocating for free trade. We see the jobs being lost by trading with countries who provide the same product with cheaper labor, that’s easy to behold. But we don’t see the gains made by deploying that labor into something more productive AND the savings that occurs because of the ability to purchase that less expensive good. Watch this video by Tyler Cowen and the folks at Marginal Revolution University about Frederic Bastiat’s essay “That Which Is Seen and That Which is Unseen”.
But let me give you an example of why you should not be worried about the robots.
Do you know what SEO is? Frankly it matters not if you do because the industry is growing exponentially it seems regardless of YOUR specific knowledge of it. SEO is Search Engine Optimization. It’s a way for you to manage your website and other technology platforms to get a higher presence on the search engines. The facts are if your business falls into the 6th or lower place on the search engine you will not be seen and thus you will not make as many sales.
This is not debatable. Thus SEO works to get your business into the 5th or higher place. Because that is prime real estate. If you are an electrician and need more customers, well, daggum, when someone types “electrician Alpharetta, GA” you better be in the top 5 results or you simply don’t exist.
There is an entire industry of thousands upon thousands of people making a good living in SEO. Yet, 15 years ago, how many of our best and brightest minds advocated making SEO for a career? None. They didn’t know what SEO would become.
Facebook advertising? If you’re on Facebook, you’ve seen ads. No two ways around that. 10 years ago, was anyone suggesting you could make a wonderful career, and a ton of money, by doing Facebook ads? Nope.
Do you need to have a PhD in rocket science to do Facebook ads well? Nope.
Can you work with the Facebook AI to maximize the use of your ads and offer your services to others in order to make a real nice living? Yup.
Ironically, go to any college and look up their marketing courses. How many are discussing SEO or Facebook ads? Few, if any. Thus, not only are the “educated elite” not seeing the market and where it’s going, but you being an ‘educated elite” could actually hurt you in the new economy because of your ignorance.
I did a podcast interview with Jessica Stansberry who is a Youtube marketing expert. She mentioned that colleges don’t teach ANY of this stuff. And yet, Jessica, from her perch in RURAL Western North Carolina is making a killing on Youtube and other platforms. The Luddites apparently are in college business programs too!
So, back to the guy at Walmart who will certainly be displaced, what’s to stop him from learning SEO or Facebook ads or any number of new industries that are coming down the pike that require no formal education?
Nothing! All he needs is a laptop and internet connection and he could easily surpass YOU in income generation even though the “Robots Took His Job!”
Technology is amazing in that we’ve seen time and again, and again, that when it destroys one thing, something else is created in other capacities. Yet somehow we still always focus on the negative and what we can see vs. what we can’t. It’s human nature, I get it.
But man, oh man, to not see the bounty that awaits us as going forward is, in my opinion, to be deliberately allowing oneself to be entrapped by negativity. This is sad, especially when so much is good out there, if we simply can open our eyes to see.