It is highly likely that one day soon professors, at least at the entry level, are made increasingly obsolete by technology. The folks at Marginal Revolution approvingly cite an article in the Washington Post that makes this point:
Every year… there are thousands of college professors who twice or three times a week offer what is largely the same basic lecture course in a subject like molecular biology or Shakespeare comedies. A few of these professors offer the kind of brilliant lectures that fill auditoriums and provide the kind of educational experience that students remember all their lives. Many of the rest offer something that ranges from mediocre to awful….why don’t we identify these extraordinary lecturers, put their lectures on CDs, and sell them to universities that could supplement them with faculty-led tutorials or discussions?
All fair points, but I disagree with Marginal Revolution’s conclusion. They argue that the result within ten years will be a winner-take-all superstar market with high wages for a few, and lousy wages for most faculty. They wish. More likely is lousy wages for almost all junior faculty, given the essential commodity that they are delivering at the 101 level. Sure, some senior faculty will make tons of money, but that is already happening at major U.S. schools where prominent faculty are flipping schools for $300K a year and more.