John Maynard Keynes was right.
As someone who has read all five parts of The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, I can tell you that’s a big claim.
Keynes has been portrayed as one of history’s great economic thinkers.
His theories are the foundation for the modern financial system that has created so many great bubbles and busts.
Of course, if you read anything other than mainstream history, you’ll know Keynes was picked from obscurity to lay the theoretical foundation for massive growth in government spending, power, and influence.
However, he did get one thing right.
In 1930 Keynes foresaw the rise of technology, mass upheaval in employment, and the potential for a standard 15-hour work week.
Increasingly, it looks like that prediction is coming sooner than later and will have massive the implications on your life, retirement, and investments.
The “Great Disruption” Has Begun
I know what you’re probably thinking…
Andrew, I’ve worked with a guy for five years, he’s never put in more than 15 hours of real work in in any week.
Seriously though, it’s already starting to happen.
If you add in labor participation rates, the average work week is only about 25 hours.
That includes 40 hours for fully employed people and the 37% of the country that’s working a zero hour work week.
In the next few years, this trend will continue.
The rise of automation and robotics is going to cause a lot of upheaval, but, in the end, will make everyone much wealthier in reality.
Of course, there will be great losses and great opportunity created by it all.
Consider these scenarios.
Take a look at a “autoland” process on aircraft.
Autoland allows a plane to land itself.
The foundation of autoland tech was originally developed near the end of WWII and has only steadily improved since then.
Today aircraft could land themselves.
The real hold-up is that you aren’t going to find too many passengers willing to get on an airplane with no pilots.
In the interim, we expect Fedex and other companies with large goods-only transportation aircraft fleets to start testing and using autoland.
That’s just one example though.
Robotics and automation have been hitting up everywhere else too.
Foxconn, the company that assembles iPhones and iPads, has so far replaced 60,000 of its workforce with automation and robotics.
Those were low-paid jobs, granted. But they are gone. And more will go too.
But really though, that’s been happening for a long time.
Think of all the complaints about the loss of manufacturing jobs.
There are fewer manufacturing jobs in the U.S. However, there is more manufacturing output than ever.
The productivity of a U.S. manufacturing worker was about $20,000 per year 40 years ago.
Today the average manufacturing worker generates more than $200,000 in products.
Few jobs and more output equals more wealth and better prices.
The big difference today is that automation is starting to hit high-paid white collar jobs.
The routine work of financial analysts, accountants, journalists, and lawyers are all getting automated into oblivion.
This will result in fewer number of jobs, lower pay for the ones who remain, and lower prices for all the consumers.
Despite the writing on the wall, there’s a funny thing happening that’s creating an opportunity for everyone in all this.
Two Ways To Profit
The majority of people have realized robotics and automation are going to have a major impact on the world.
Estimates on how many jobs being automated out of existence over the next 20 to 50 years run as high as 50% and 80%.
And they’re not unreasonable.
However, according to a recent Pew Research study, 80% of people think their jobs and industries are safe.
Those numbers just don’t square. Something has to give. And the way things are looking, the jobs will give way to automation eventually.
There are two moves you can make right now to benefit from the upheaval caused by the “Great Disruption” driven by robotics and automation.
First, get in on it personally.
Target an opportunity get in on it.
Take a class. Take an entry level job (while they still exist). Do what you have to do to start learning it.
I can tell you from a personal business experience that people who can do both software and handywork are immensely valuable.
Where I live in Arizona there are a number of extravagant pools in many backyards.
You know the type. Multiple waterfalls, possibly a waterslide, and all controlled on an app on an iPad.
The thing is though, the systems that run them are also mostly pieces of garbage. They are always breaking.
The repairmen are extremely expensive too. Someone who can work on both the pumps and pipes and the software can charge between $100 and $200 an hour for repairs.
That’s just one opportunity though. There has to be hundreds more.
In the end, you could find yourself working a 15-hour work week and be happy to be holding onto a job.
Or, by the time this all really hits, you could have developed an invaluable expertise that will have you working as much or as little as you like.
The second move to make is to get your portfolio in on it too.
That’s what we’ll focus on tomorrow and some early leaders in robotics which are somehow still relatively cheap.