NC State Ag Economist Dr. Mike Walden – “The Pace of Automation”


Mary:  I’m Mary Walden with economist MW welcoming you to the economic perspective.  Today’s program looks at the pace of automation. Mike, most experts agree that technology and machinery will continue to replace people in the performance of some job tasks.  Indeed, you participated in a conference last year examining the potential for automation in North Carolina.  Yet I understand there is disagreement among the experts has to how fast machines will be able to replace humans.  Please explain.

Mike: Summary Answer

  1. Have studies saying only 10% of jobs will be lost in coming decades due to automation; others saying close to half
  2. Have a new entry in the debate from the McKinsey Global Institute
  3. Takes a middle ground, predicting automation will occur, but a gradual pace
  4. Initially see existing jobs will be transformed, not replaced by technology
  5. One reason – “bugs” inevitably will be discovered once technology is used
  6. Another reason for gradual changeover – cost of switching to the technology
  7. Still, McKinsey sees technologically-induced unemployment, but not rapidly
  8. I’m MW


Mary:  And I’m Mary Walden for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service