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Low-Skill Jobs and Their Impact on American Culture

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Low-Skill Jobs and Their Impact on American Culture

As possibilities for automation grow, job opportunities shrink. With self-driving cars substituting driving jobs, and drones taking delivery and surveillance jobs, the end of low-skill or “menial” jobs may be closer than many people think. Computers and robots are already taking many jobs that most people would consider menial. With the current advancements in automation “machines might be able to take half of all U.S. jobs within two decades”(Thompson 53). The loss of low-skill jobs could have profound impacts on American culture. As technology takes the next step to automation, American culture and creativity could boom, similarly to when humans moved from hunting and gathering to agriculture; or automation could lead America into a veritable dark age as unemployment and idleness become the norm.

If automation does take over most low-skill jobs in the near future, then America must be prepared to deal with the possible negative outcomes of the loss of available menial jobs. If not handled in the correct way, there is the possibility that with increased leisure and free time, instead of using that time to be productive and creative, people may fill this time with unproductive activities such as video games, watching television and movies, etc. Already the majority of “men in particular devote most of their free time to leisure, the lion’s share of which is spent watching television, browsing the Internet, and sleeping”(Thompson 55). Idleness and the lack of ambition could become prevalent instead of driving forces like creativity and intuition. If jobs are lost there is a possibility that the entire USA could become a veritable Youngstown Ohio. Youngstown was a city that flourished during the 20s, but after World War Two many of their factories shut down, leading to massive lay-offs; and the unemployment rate went through the roof. As jobs were lost “Youngstown was transformed not only by an economic disruption but also by a psychological and cultural breakdown. Depression, spousal abuse, and suicide all became much more prevalent”(Thompson 51). As more and more low-skill jobs are automated, the risk of America becoming a country-wide Youngstown becomes greater if job displacement is not handled mindfully.

Although the possibility for catastrophic results by ending the need for low-skill jobs exists, there is more than just the one possible outcome. If handled correctly, the end of menial work could lead humanity as close to utopia as humans can reach. If people use the newfound extra time and leisure to grow things like creativity, intuition, inventions, and technology, then new discoveries will boom in a way they never have before. The possibility of true AI could even be on the horizon, and if humans can design an AI that won’t destroy the entire human race, then many jobs could be completed by computers; and a new



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