Every discussion about the consequences of automation eventually has to lead to the same conclusion: Millions of human jobs are about to disappear because machines will be better and/or more efficient at doing them. This could lead to massive political and social unrest. However, like during any wave of structural disruption due to technological progress, new jobs and tasks suited for humans will emerge. But they might not have too much in common with the tasks and frameworks of the traditional, stable nine-to-five model and its variations.
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If you look closely, the shift is already in full effect. Over the past ten years, numerous new professions, jobs and ways to earn money have appeared. For many people, embracing these has been a necessity due to job loss. For others, new opportunities arose out of entrepreneurial foresight or the urge for independence and freedom from the constraints of traditional employments. Some of these new tasks can have concerning societal or psychological implications.
Let’s dive into the new jobs which didn’t exist ten years ago (without a claim for completeness). Overlaps are common.
Crypto currencies and blockchain
- Speculators and investors (full or part time)
- Founders, advisors, opinion leaders
- Service providers and cottage industry catering to this completely new sector
- Transportation and delivery services, but also various other types of tasks performed online or offline (including also so called “Clickworkers”). Globally millions of people are participating in this model of work. See also: Independent work: Choice, necessity, and the gig economy
Content moderation for large online platforms
- Surveillance and censorship (see also: China’s Weibo Hires 1000 ‘Supervisors’ to Censor Content)
- Moderation of user content (see also: Facebook Will Hire 3,000 Staffers to Review Violent Content, Hate Speech)
- Scanning of potential revenge porn (see also: Facebook Workers, Not an Algorithm, Will Look at Volunteered Nude Photos First to Stop Revenge Porn)
- Fact checkers
Influencers and internet celebrities
- Individuals who manage to acquire large numbers of followers online and who make money mostly through sponsoring and affiliate
- Dropshippers (see also: This Guy Made $12K In One Month While Working Full-Time)
- Smart resellers (see also: This 28-year-old’s company makes millions buying from Walmart and selling on Amazon)
- Shady resellers (see also: Why It’s Nearly Impossible To Stop This Amazon and eBay Scheme)
- Affiliate businesses not connected to an individual but to a topic/niche (see also: The War To Sell You A Mattress Is An Internet Nightmare)
- Selection and packaging of existing content and information for an interested audience, for example through email newsletters (shameless plug: Did you already sign up for my curated weekly email?)
- “Tastemakers”, for example in music streaming (see also: A day in the life of a music-streaming playlister)
- Podcasters who monetize through sponsors or Patreon (see also: How Patreon became a major source of revenue for podcasters)
- Online course creators (see also: 10 Platforms You Can Use To Host Your Online Courses)
- Tutoring (see also: How To Start Tutoring Online As A Side Business)
- Let’s Player (see also: How Twitch Turned Video Game Voyeurism Into Big Business)
- Lifestreamer – people who are being watched while and paid for doing trivial activities (see also: The live-streaming app where amateurs get paid to chat, eat, and sleep on camera and This Woman Makes $9,000 A Month Eating In Front Of A Webcam)
- Adult cammer (see also: Webcamming: The sex work revolution that no one is willing to talk about)
Disinformation as a business
- Financially motivated producers and distributors of fake news (see also: A fake news writer reveals how he’s making money on Facebook)
Troll factories and online propaganda
- Producers and distributors of ideologically or politically motivated fake news, who are being paid
- Professionally organized trolls, who work with the goal to fulfill their clients’ or employers’ agendas (see also: Invasion of the troll armies: from Russian Trump supporters to Turkish state stooges)
- Professionally organized counter trolling
Partly automated content farms
- Producers of algorithmic content for YouTube (see also: Something is wrong on the Internet)
And so on. If you have additions, please leave a comment.
Not all of these tasks and jobs will still be around in ten years. Some will, others won’t. However, this list emphasizes how far we already have progressed into the massive structural change of work caused by the rise of the internet and advancements in automation – and how some of the new jobs are creative and associated with positive attributes, while others are either slightly strange or downright destructive.