Economists have worried about the demise of work since automation started transforming American factories in the mid-20th century. Now that AI is on the scene, industry and commerce are standing on the verge of perhaps the greatest rush into automation ever, and the questions have turned philosophical. What will change in the day-to-day way that work gets done, and what will be required of tomorrow’s workers?
For one thing, there’s still no agreement among experts on just how many jobs can or will be replaced by automation. But even putting aside how many jobs we lose or gain, what’s clear is that the concepts of employment and labor are now more in flux than they’ve ever been. Work won’t go away any time soon, but it will continue to change rapidly, and that change will often happen on a foundational level—in these five ways and more.