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How Machines Destroy and Create Jobs

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“There’s just doesn’t seem to be many blacksmith jobs these days.”

At first glance, this would be a ridiculous thing to say. Of course there aren’t many blacksmiths around. We live in a modern society and machines do a way better job of making things from metal anyways.

However, it also raises an important point.

What if machines are better at driving long-haul trucks? What if machines are better servers at McDonald’s? What if robots did your taxes for you?

While some of these ideas are contentious today, in the future we may look back thinking that our fears were ill-placed. The truth is that the job landscape is constantly in flux as technology changes.

Some of today’s jobs with high automation potential may be the future “blacksmiths”, and we should not be surprised if they go away. The best thing that we can do is to understand these trends and build a set of skills that will be in demand in any market.

The Trend is Your Friend

The following graphics from NPR shows the evolution of jobs over time in the United States.

The first divides jobs into four main categories: white collar, blue collar, farming, and services. It shows how the composition of the overall job market has changed over the last 165 years:

US Jobs by Type (Percentage)

The second shows the same information, but plotted by the total number of jobs:

US Jobs by Type (Total)

There were 10 million farmers in America in the early 20th century.

Now there’s closer to one million, and yet those farmers produce way more food. Technology may have “killed off” the majority of farm jobs, but at the same time new technology created jobs in the service, blue collar, and white collar industries.

We may now be at a similar inflection point for other careers – this interactive graphic shows some of the jobs that have been on the decline in recent years.

In 1960, a whopping 11% of the workforce was employed in factories. Today only 4% are employed in factories.

In the late 1970s, almost 5% of the workforce was secretaries. Today, we’re at about half that, but professionals can be just as productive without a secretary thanks to better computer software.

Yes, there are globalization issues at play here as well, but even a modern domestic factory such as the Tesla Gigafactory (which has the largest building by footprint in the world) will only employ about 6,000 people. The majority of the work will be done by robots.

And while it seems scary to think about the rise of machines and a faster pace of technological advancement, it’s important to recognize that these types of sweeping changes to the job market have happened throughout history.

The point is, try not to be the 21st century version of a “blacksmith”.

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The World’s 100 Most Valuable Brands in 2019

Technology brands account for 20 of the world’s 100 most valuable brands in 2019, combining for a whopping 43% of total brand value.

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The World’s 100 Most Valuable Brands in 2019

Brand equity can be a challenging thing to build.

Even with access to deep pockets and an innovative product, it can take decades of grit to scrape your way into the mainstream consciousness of consumers.

On the path to becoming established as a globally significant brand, companies must fight through fierce competition, publicity scandals, changing regulations, and rapidly-evolving consumer tastes – all to take a bite from the same piece of pie.

Cream of the Crop

Today’s visualization comes to us from HowMuch.net, and it showcases the 100 most valuable brands in the world, according to Forbes.

Here are the powerful brands that sit at the very top of the list:

RankBrandBrand Value ($B)1-Yr Value ChangeIndustry
#1Apple$205.5+12%Technology
#2Google$167.7+27%Technology
#3Microsoft$125.3+20%Technology
#4Amazon$97.0+37%Technology
#5Facebook$88.9-6%Technology
#6Coca-Cola$59.2+3%Beverages
#7Samsung$53.1+11%Technology
#8Disney$52.2+10%Leisure
#9Toyota$44.6+0%Automotive
#10McDonald's$43.8+6%Restaurants

It should be noted that the list is ordered by brand value, a measure that tries to calculate each brand’s ultimate contribution in financial terms to the parent company. You can see that full methodology here.

Finally, it’s also worth mentioning that brands with only a token representation in the United States have been excluded from the rankings. This means companies like Alibaba or Vodafone are not represented in this particular visualization.

Tech Rules Again in 2019

For another straight year, technology dominates the list of the 100 most valuable brands in 2019 – this time, with six of the top seven entries.

Most of these brands saw double-digit growth in value from the previous year, including Apple (12%), Google (27%), Amazon (37%), Microsoft (20%), and Samsung (11%). The one notable exception here is Facebook, which experienced a 6% drop in value attributed to various struggles around the company’s reputation.

Here’s a look at how industries break down more generally on the list:

Industry# of BrandsBrand Value ($B)
Total100$2,231.9
Technology20$957.6
Financial Services13$198.1
Automotive11$208.9
Consumer Goods10$123.8
Retail8$133.0
Luxury6$124.1
Beverages4$49.3
Diversified4$56.8
Alcohol3$69.8
Apparel3$34.7
Business Services3$33.5
Restaurants3$73.0
Telecom3$24.3
Heavy Equipment2$36.7
Leisure2$19.8
Media2$34.8
Transportation2$41.1
Tobacco1$12.6

As you can see, technology brands make up 20% of the list in terms of the number of entries – and a whopping 43% of the list’s cumulative valuation.

In total, technologies brands combined for $957.6 billion in value. Even when including Facebook’s recent drop, this is an impressive 9.7% increase on last year’s numbers.

Will the double-digit increases for the world’s largest tech giants continue into 2020, or are brands such as Amazon and Google going to start seeing the same type of pushback that Facebook has grappled with among consumers and regulators?

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Chart of the Week

The 10 Breakthrough Technologies That Will Define 2019

Which innovations will dominate headlines in 2019? According to Bill Gates, watch for these 10 breakthrough technologies to change the world.

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The 10 Breakthrough Technologies That Will Define 2019

Gone are the days of turning stones into spears. With the advent of new technologies, we’ve learned to develop tools that not only make living faster and easier every day, but also improve the future of humanity as a whole.

Today’s Chart of the Week draws from the MIT Technology Review, which features Bill Gates’ predictions for the top 10 breakthrough inventions that will capture headlines in 2019.

Top 10 Breakthrough Technologies

1. Gut Probe in a Pill
These swallowable devices can detect and potentially prevent diseases that cause malnutrition and stunted growth in millions of children worldwide.

2. Custom Cancer Vaccines
Personalized cancer vaccines, targeting only the cancerous cells and leave healthy cells alone, could help ensure faster recovery times and pose fewer risks to patients.

3. Meat-free Burgers
Plant-based and lab-grown food products will ideally alleviate the environmental impact of the livestock industry.

4. Smooth-talking AI assistants
The AI assistants of the future will have even more human-like conversations to personally engage customers. Companies would see measurable benefits, with just one breakthrough here garnering a 5% jump in productivity.

5. Sanitation without sewers
Improperly drained sewage causes death in one out of every nine children. Sanitation that doesn’t require sewers would not only prevent exposure diseases but also help turn waste into useful products like fertilizer.

6. ECG on your wrist
While most medical ECGS have up to 12 nodes to detect abnormalities, today’s wearables typically have only one. An ECG on the wrist would help reduce the risk of heart disease by monitoring changes and patterns in daily life.

7. Robot Dexterity
Advancements in robotics will enable the natural dexterity required to complete a greater range of tasks, such as helping an ailing loved one out of bed, doing the laundry, or building toys.

8. Predicting Preemies
Premature births are the leading cause of death for children under five years old. Tests to detect the possibility of a premature birth could be available in doctors’ offices in as little as five years.

9. Carbon Dioxide Catcher
Carbon dioxide catchers filter out CO₂ from the air and capture it for other uses. These include synthetic fuel creation, CO₂ for soft drinks, and plant growth in greenhouses.

10. New-wave Nuclear Power
Traditional nuclear reactors produce ~1,000 megawatts (MW), while these proposed mini-reactors would produce tens of megawatts ─ making them safer, more stable, and more financially viable for potential users.

A Vision for a Better Future

The biggest takeaway?

Seven of the 10 breakthrough technologies stem from the healthtech sector.

While several inventions on this list are years away from becoming a reality, they continue to embody the vision and passion that humans share to create and explore.

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