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Bill Gates: People don't realise how many jobs will soon be lost to computers

Many jobs will replaced by software automation, or ‘bots’.

Image: batmoo via Flickr/Creative Commmons

BIG CHANGES ARE coming to the labour market that people and governments aren’t prepared for, Bill Gates believes.

Speaking at the Washington-based economic think tank The American Enterprise Institute last week, Gates said that within 20 years, a lot of jobs will be replaced by software automation (“bots” in tech slang, though Gates used the term “software substitution”).

This is what he said:

“Software substitution, whether it’s for drivers or waiters or nurses … it’s progressing. … Technology over time will reduce demand for jobs, particularly at the lower end of skill set.”

“20 years from now, labour demand for lots of skill sets will be substantially lower. I don’t think people have that in their mental model.”

He’s not the only one predicting this gloomy scenario for workers.

In January, the Economist ran a profile naming over a dozen jobs sure to be taken over by robots in the next 20 years, including telemarketers, accountants and retail workers.

Gates believes that the tax codes are going to need to change to encourage companies to hire employees, including, perhaps, eliminating income and payroll taxes altogether.

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Minimum wage

He’s also not a fan of raising the minimum wage, fearing that it will discourage employers from hiring workers in the very categories of jobs that are most threatened by automation.

“When people say we should raise the minimum wage,” he explained, “I worry about what that does to job creation … potentially damping demand in the part of the labor spectrum that I’m most worried about.”

- Julie Bort

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