Future Employment and Quality of Life

Robots could replace half of the workforce by 2045. Cultural resources and visitor attractions are needed to provide social and recreational activities, and to fill the employment gap in a world of increasing automation and artificial intelligence.

The Report on DFW Area Visitor Attractions reflects the tremendous possibilities and underutilized resources in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, and offers recommendations for moving forward.

Mural art in Deep Ellum
Mural art in the Deep Ellum historic district near downtown Dallas.

PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that automation will replace 38 percent of jobs by 2032 (in 15 years). Oxford University researchers say that 47 percent of jobs could be automated by 2035. Bill Gates believes half of all jobs will be gone by 2045 and he says robots should be taxed to provide needed social services and infrastructure.

It isn't a question of whether it will happen or not. It is already happening. Many people have lost opportunities due to the high efficiency of globalized companies in the new technological revolution and information age. Many have directly lost jobs to computers and machines. It is not only possible to lose 25-50 percent of the potential jobs for humans in most industries; it is possible to lose more.

Everyone has watched and heard it happen before their eyes and ears - automated tellers (ATMs), self checkout, ticket and toll kiosks, computer customer service operators, self-propelled wandering vacuums and lawn mowers, harvesting machines, etc. - with even more on the horizon - delivery drones, self-driving cars and trucks, and more. The changes brought on by automation, computer simulation and artificial intelligence (AI) not only affect manufacturing, but also service industries, and even professional jobs.

While people like Bill Gates believe robots should be taxed, many also believe there may be a universal guaranteed income for people displaced by technology. That is much larger than the scope of this report. The Report on DFW Area Visitor Attractions is, however, interested in productive use of leisure time and visitor interests. Also, automation continues to change our ways of life and, therefore, provides new considerations about cultural resources.

If half of jobs are gone, will everyone work 20 hours per week instead of 40 to increase opportunity in the workforce? Will unemployment grow? Will people adapt and discover DIY (do-it-yourself) roles that robots simply can't fill? The big questions ahead are: what will people do with their time if they are unemployed or underemployed, and what can people do that robots can't do? People need to be active, productive and social, even if only to be mentally and physically fit. The issues are similar to those considered by researchers as they conceive space travel.

Should the population's time commitments get better rather than worse, cultural arts and recreational activities will be extremely important. People will be in even greater need of social events and healthy activities, and those unmet needs are already evident.

NEA graphic Why People Attend the Arts
National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) graphic: Why People Attend the Arts.

Social Activity is Critical

While organization and institution directors like to think the main reasons for people to attend their productions is to learn new things and experience high-quality art, the reality is that people like to attend arts, culture and other types of events even more so for social activity. But education and supporting the community are also very important.

In an ever-increasing, impersonal world of computers, artificial intelligence and robots, the activities provided by arts, culture, recreation and other types of events and opportunities are an important solution. They expand productive interests, lifelong learning conditions, cultural experiences and healthy activities that aren't generally possible in lifestyles and industries dominated by AI and robotic technologies.

Creativity is Still in Demand

Artists increasingly employ new technology in their productions. Conversely, many artists, musicians and fans develop greater interests in hand-made and acoustic music, and analog (non-digital) technologies. Arts, like many other aspects of culture, require human imagination and dedication, since they exist for the greater purpose of making life valuable or meaningful. Arts and creative industries inspire innovation for the most successful cities now and will continue to do so, even as automation of many occupations becomes more prevalent.

Cities and communities that develop excellent cultural resources and provide visitor attractions will certainly excel in education, health, happiness and quality of life. It is highly likely that they will be leaders in economy and employment, as well, as the workforce becomes more creative and strategic.

Beck Hell Yes Video
Multi-faceted artist Beck employs hand-made and computer-generated music, and dances with robots (in his impressive video "Hell Yes", below). On the flipside of a video with synchronized robots and the appearance of virtual reality (VR) images, Beck and many others enjoy the challenge to use older, traditional technology, as seen in the animated video "E-Pro", which deceptively appears to be computer generated. Regardless, like many other artists (even some who present themselves as virtual animations or computerized androids), Beck still creates his own art and has millions of fans who like to gather and share the experience of music.

There are many other pertinent issues and interests being considered in the Report on DFW Area Visitor Attractions.

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