Humans are losing out to greater computer automation with a wider range of jobs disappearing, according to Google chairman Eric Schmidt, speaking at this week's World Economic Forum in Davos.
Schmidt said there was an acceleration in technological innovation. He said,“The race is between computers and people and the people need to win. I am clearly on that side. In this fight it is very important that we find the things that humans are really good at.”
Schmidt said governments had to encourage “gazelle” companies to help replace the jobs that were rapidly being replaced by more automation, such as those in white collar clerical grades.
He used shale gas fracking in the US as an example of a technology used by relatively small companies that was creating large numbers of jobs. The jobs factor is one reason the UK government is also getting behind fracking here, despite the potential threats to the environment.
Schmidt said, “There is research that relatively highly skilled middle class jobs are being automated out." He said new technologies were creating more part-time work and growth in the caring and creative industries, but warned that many middle class jobs were being replaced by service jobs.
He said governments had to invest in education systems to improve skill levels and human cognition. “It's pretty clear that work is changing and the classic nine to five job is going to have to be redefined,” Schmidt said.