- - Wednesday, December 29, 2021

This is the second episode of a two-part series on the future of the American workplace.

In late 2019, Andrew Yang, then a Democratic candidate for president, wrote an ominous column weeks before the coronavirus pandemic would upend the global economy.

Mr. Yang’s warning about jobs lost to automation can conjure visions of a dystopian future in which millions of unskilled workers idle as robots seize their low-wage positions in factories, warehouses and offices.

But setting aside possible dystopias and utopias, major American businesses and organizations are preparing for significant changes – changes accelerated by the need to adapt during the pandemic – in the coming years.

In this episode of History As It Happens, futurist Brian David Johnson deconstructs predictions focusing on robots to the exclusion of human beings. Even as automation expands, human beings will be essential to the workplace, he said.

“If a robot can take your job, then your job probably wasn’t very good because it was turning you into a robot,” said Mr. Johnson, who advises businesses, militaries and trade organizations on the future of the workforce with a focus on preparing workers to learn new skills.

“Your job may not have been good because it was turning you into a machine, but your livelihood is very important. We often forget that,” Mr. Johnson said.

To listen to the full interview with Mr. Johnson, download this episode of History As It Happens

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