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If you’re under the age of 40, you need to realize that the middle class may very well be dead before you finish your career.

An interesting article was published yesterday on the Atlantic called “The Coders Programming Themselves Out of a Job.”

It’s a story about a couple of programmers who automated their entire workload then got fired because their employee realized they weren’t doing any work.

Supposedly, automation is designed to liberate workers from tedious tasks and long hours. But, as the article describes, most workers face a reality more like this:

Automation continues apace; millions of jobs once carried out by humans are accomplished by software and mechanized factories, while Americans are working harder and increasingly longer hours. The gains from automation have generally been enjoyed not by those who operate the machines, but those who own them.

I faced a similar problem in my last job. I got a full-time job writing emails designed to sell a software-as-a-service product as well as a bunch of business coaching programs. Once I wrote a couple hundred or so emails covering every product, everything was automated. There was nothing left for me to do except send out an occasional social media post on the rare occasion I could get my overscheduled boss to review them.

Those emails I wrote could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to the company. They paid me what I agreed to be paid. Then they let me go when they no longer needed me.

Somehow, all the problems I avoided causing while being an employee went unappreciated 🙂

As comforting as it is to say, “not everyone has to be an entrepreneur” I think this reality is changing. If you can’t figure out how to own something… even just a part of it… you might find your income suddenly disappears.

There will be 3 classes of people:

  1. Those who own the machines (or the assets the machine works on)
  2. Those who work long hours on the machines
  3. Those who get replaced by the machines

Yes, there probably will be a rising market for servants. But the competition will be high and the wages relatively low. Probably not the ideal position to be in to attract women or comfortably raise a family.