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Technology is like an unstoppable wave, rushing upon the shore and scattering countless grains of sand.
In the same way, technology will wash away workers in the coming economic sea change. Smart machines will take their jobs, and they will need new ones.
Darlene Damm, writing for the Harvard Business Review, says it's time for companies to get creative.
The Robots Are Coming
"Robots have probably taken about 85% of the 5 million manufacturing jobs that have disappeared from the United States since 2000," she writes.
Retailers such as Macy's and The Limited are cutting tens of thousands of jobs as people buy more products online, she says, while other companies are testing robotic assistants. More than 40 companies are working on autonomous vehicles that will replace drivers.
Damm challenges employers to do more than displace workers with technology. They should "shift into new markets focused on human services," she says.
Walmart, for example, is offering optometry services, beauty salons, and restaurants. But, she says, the company could offer classes in yoga, fitness, cooking, as well as make room for child care, social programs, and community services.
In-house counsel will have to keep up with the changes, as they manage company liabilities and the costs of compliance and litigation. They will employ new technologies to handle traditional demands, but they will also need to adapt to new business models.
A traditional retailer like Walmart may become more of a service company. Contractors may take the place of employees. Stock may become part of compensation agreements, the same way tech entrepreneurs do it.
At the heart of the technological revolution, people will need new ways to work -- even lawyers. Some will find jobs within the industry, such as technicians, programmers, and engineers.
But others will have to go back to school, develop new skills, or create jobs for themselves. Of course, it may be, too, there will be a surge in surfing instructors or lifeguard positions.
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