When I talk about automation, I don't necessarily mean robots running around showing holograms. What I mean are computerized systems that will run processes with little or no human interaction. Automation will redefine many jobs and replace many others.
There's a paper published in 2013 called "The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to Computerization?" What's particularly interesting is the appendix that ranks jobs by probability of computerization. For instance, out of a 0 to 1 scale, Choreographers have a probability ranking of .004 (there you go, Jason Crespin at Amarillo Little Theater!).
On the other end are occupations such as receptionists, cooks, welders, and telemarketers. Some of these probability scores are .99 out of 1.
If you've ever used Amazon or watched a movie through Netflix, you understand why Hastings shut down in Amarillo (yes, I'm oversimplifying, but in general terms it's apparent what's going on). It's also apparent we can't hold on to the old way of doing things.
What we can do is become a hub of invention and entrepreneurship and make a systemic change in our local economy by promoting a series of small and dynamic businesses, in essence creating our own startup culture.
What's a city go to do with that? It's all about infrastructure. I don't mean water, sewer, and roads. Those are the things cities are already doing (and they're the things Amarillo is finally getting around to fixing). I'm talking about network infrastructure and how cities are starting to build tools to give these kinds of new companies with new ideas the opportunity to thrive. I'll talk about more specific examples in my next few posts.
What we can do - right now - is build the right team with the school districts, Amarillo College, West Texas A&M, and Texas Tech because the core of my argument rests solely on education. This kind of education should have relevance to the student and hope for the city. The city of Amarillo has never built such an economic and strategic partnership with our educational institutions before - until now.
We have to think deeply and critically about where Amarillo needs to be in the future, and these are the conversations I've been having with people.
Oh, and yes, even lawyers are under threat: Robot Lawyer.