In How the internet is making us poor Christopher Mims asks a chilling question about what he calls the “hollowing out of the middle class” — the phenomenon where knowledge workers are being replaced by computers:
Like farming and factory work before it, the labors of the mind are being colonized by devices and systems. In the early 1800′s, nine out of ten Americans worked in agriculture—now it’s around 2%. At its peak, about a third of the US population was employed in manufacturing—now it’s less than 10%. How many decades until the figures are similar for the information-processing tasks that typify rich countries’ post-industrial economies?
The article also quotes this thought-provoking statement from Marc Andreessen:
The spread of computers and the Internet will put jobs in two categories: People who tell computers what to do, and people who are told by computers what to do.
It might seem like the usual doom-and-gloom “technology will kill as all” refrain, but the article reviews some very interesting historical (and current) data, so it’s worth checking out.