For more than three decades, technology has reduced the number of jobs in manufacturing. Robots and other machines controlled by computer programs work faster and make fewer mistakes than humans. Now, that same efficiency is being unleashed in the service economy, which employs more than two-thirds of the workforce in developed countries. Technology is eliminating jobs in office buildings, retail establishments and other businesses consumers deal with every day.
Technology is being adopted by every kind of organisation that employs people. It's replacing workers in large corporations and small businesses, established companies and start-ups. It's being used by schools, colleges and universities; hospitals and other medical facilities; non-profit organisations and the military.
The most vulnerable workers are doing repetitive tasks that programmers can write software for - an accountant checking a list of numbers, an office manager filing forms, a paralegal reviewing documents for key words to help in a case. As software becomes even more sophisticated, victims are expected to include those who juggle tasks, such as supervisors and managers - workers who thought they were protected by a college degree.
It's becoming a self-serve world. Instead of relying on someone else in the workplace or our personal lives, we use technology to do tasks ourselves. Some find this frustrating; others like the feeling of control. Either way, this trend will only grow as software permeates our lives.
Technology is replacing workers in developed countries regardless of their politics, policies and laws. Union rules and labour laws may slow the dismissal of employees, but no country is attempting to prohibit organisations from using technology that allows them to operate more efficiently - and with fewer employees.