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The new economics of robots are here — and escalating

You know that feeling when you’ve learned to use a program on your laptop or an app on your smartphone and the new version comes out and you have to relearn it? Multiply that feeling times 100 and you’ll get a sense of the economic change taking place.

You know that feeling when you’ve learned to use a program on your laptop or an app on your smartphone and the new version comes out and you have to relearn it? Multiply that feeling times 100 and you’ll get a sense of the economic change taking place.

Please don’t stop reading. This is not a column about the future that only your children’s children will need to worry about it. Unless you’re signing your retirement papers now, this is for you.

Technology has slowly changed the way we live and work. Robotics and artificial intelligence will rapidly change the jobs in our economy and where they are located. It will change the type of jobs we have in the Lehigh Valley, the skills we need here and how we educate our kids and re-educate ourselves.

And, it is happening now.

We can’t plan for tomorrow anymore based on yesterday. In order to catch the ball, you need to run to where it’s going to be – not where it is.

“The inevitable pink slip is coming for almost any job that is routine, easily replicable or low-skilled,” writes Ron Starner, executive vice president of Conway Inc., in this month’s Site Selection magazine, the foremost publication for business location advisers. “And the color of your collar won’t matter.”

The displacement is because of robotics and automation.

Software entrepreneur Martin Ford, author of The New York Times bestseller “Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future,” says the development of robotics is moving much faster than predicted and has begun to replace workers in large numbers.

“Foxconn has already automated an entire factory in China and eliminated 60,000 jobs,” Ford recently told Site Selection magazine. “There is not really a discernible endpoint to this. It will just keep going. Technology will just keep getting better and better.”

The translation is that yesterday’s science fiction is quickly becoming reality. If a job doesn’t take a whole lot of brain power, chances are good in the near future it will be done by a machine.

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