Are We Ready for the Future?


In a lot of ways, the world is moving way too fast for me. It’s the little things that make me take notice of this changing world. For example, on a recent trip to a big box store (you know, the biggie of the big box stores) I actually found myself voluntarily checking myself out and bagging my own items.

It wasn’t because I wanted to. It’s just that convenience overrode my need to stick to my old ways of doing things. And a check-out with an actual human being to do the job was so far away, it would have taken me more time and effort to walk to it, that I decided to bite the bullet.

This wasn’t the first time I’d checked myself out, but this was the first time I had more than one or two items. There were other complications too. I had produce that needed to be weighed and I had a sale item that didn’t have a bar code. For those two items I needed help from the lady standing by to guide novices through the process. But even with those two glitches, it turned out to be more convenient and definitely faster.  I was proud of myself for actually doing something that was out of my comfort zone.

Still, I realized that my taking on the challenge of self check-out was part of a much bigger reality; a rapidly changing work world that will leave too many unprepared.

On my drive into work every morning, I turn on NPR. This morning, one of the stories was about robot-proof jobs. The reporter is traveling around the country looking for jobs that robots cannot do, jobs only people can do. As I listened, I thought about all of the under-educated and unprepared people whose jobs will be overtaken by technology and robots. I thought about the cashier at the big box store pushed out of a job because of people like me who are finally succumbing to “progress” for the sake of convenience and time.