Like most boys growing up, one of the chores my brother and I were tasked with was the weekly ritual of “taking out the garbage.” Back then, it would entail toting out black Hefty bags from the garage to the curb. More often than not, my brother and I would forget about garbage day until the last minute and we would wind up sprinting the trash from the garage to the curb as the collection truck approached. Most times we would make it under the wire and we would stand and watch as the two workers who were riding on the back of the truck climbed down and threw our black Hefty bags into the back of the truck.
By the way, my mother (rightly so) would still yell at us for being so late taking out the trash.
As it happens, I got older, moved far away from home, and never thought about or had to think about racing trash bags out to the curb until I came to MSW Management. That’s when I discovered that the jobs of those two collection truck workers who tossed trash bags into the truck had been lost to automation. I found out that people who worked in sorting lines had been replaced by automation.
Our industry may be facing another wave of job-replacing automation. A recent article on iflscience.com reports that a team of experts from Smart Asset, a financial technology company in New York, is predicting that 73 million jobs will be replaced by robots by the year 2030 and as many as half of vocations could be at risk in the coming decades. They’re even predicting how at risk you are simply by the state in which you live.
The website says:
According to that data, these are the 10 states most at risk of automation:
- Nevada – 59.16 percent
- South Dakota – 58.49 percent
- Wyoming – 56.4 percent
- Louisiana – 55.9 percent
- Montana – 55.36 percent
- South Carolina – 55.28 percent
- Mississipi – 55.09 percent
- Florida – 55.03 percent
- Texas – 55.01percent
- Alabama – 54.99 percent
Nevada topped the list with three out of five jobs at risk of automation. Those at the highest risk are those working in the retail industry, who have a 92 percent chance of being replaced by a robot. But it is the state’s gambling and hospitality industries that really earn Nevada the number one spot. As of now, they are major employers but they might not be for much longer, with gaming dealers, maids, and bartenders having around a 65 percent risk of automation.
Other jobs at high risk include cashiers, fast food workers, trailer truck drivers, office clerks, and hand laborers and material movers. Meanwhile, police officers, vocational nurses, and childcare workers have a less than 10 percent chance of being replaced by robots.
You can find the full list here.
The optimistic view is that more jobs will be created as a result of the coming technology, automation, and artificial intelligence (AI).
Workers in 19th century England were decidedly not optimistic.
How do you think automation and AI will affect the waste management workforce?
Will it bring about change for the better?