Advanced Technology & Rise in Employment: A Contradiction?
Advanced Technology and Rising Unemployment Is there necessarily a Trade-off?
The fear of change has always hindered the evolution of mankind and only after certain strong uprisings, were the greatest of changes adopted for the common good, which at first sight were regarded as an attack on the major beliefs of the people. So, I embark on a journey to elucidate the question of a tradeoff between the Rising levels of Unemployment and the advancement in technology.
My opinions would be willfully counterintuitive so that people introspect and understand the essence and need of the shift in the thought process for evolution.
This question distantly points to technological unemployment which is on the rise with the advent of Robots, Artificial intelligence; Automation of low-paid jobs, and so on.
Historical allusion to the evolutionary saga
Technology has been derived from the Greek words tekhnē meaning a form of art, craft and –logia meaning word discourse of something. So when technology means a form of a discourse of art or creativity within a person, how can it become a cause for snatching away people’s livelihood that is their jobs? Was the Education system around the globe in different countries that much out-of-date that the “music” within a child could not be made to flow, to be employed for the betterment of the economy?
In the 18th Century due to the Industrial Revolution in Britain, handicrafts industries were replaced with modern machinery industries thus leading to large-scale “short-term” unemployment. This short-term word has some long-term implications.
Just as the handicraft industries shut down, the modern industries went forth with full thrust ready to absorb any amount of available labor required for the operation of these machines. This increase in the efficiency and the number of products made available goods in a short period and with less tedious work. This made people accustomed to demanding a higher amount of goods of every variety which in turn ensured an improvement in the quality of life of the people. So, the success of the industrial revolution
was an output of the quick adjustment in the skills of the work force1.
Many religious elements and idealists were preaching and claiming that such form of evolution was an attack on the power and faith of God, but eventually, they became the ashes or the leftovers of the era after experiencing the brunt that one would feel if one keeps a pessimistic view to the thought of an evolutionary change.
Such narratives claiming that technological advancement is nothing more than a reason for rising unemployment, then I am afraid for their future as a technological breakthrough is going to rain on the world as hell.
Grounded and real implications of the Application of Advanced Technology
Through thorough research, researchers have been able to quantify the real implications that uptake of technological automation has on the employment numbers of an economy.
According to a report published by PwC, the correct amount of investment and the ready to accept attitude can cause a significant transformation in the productivity and GDP potential of the global economy. Their research showed that 45% of total economic gains by 2030 would come from product enhancements, stimulating consumer demand. That was because AI would drive greater product variety, with increased personalization, attractiveness, and affordability over time. They pegged the gains of such timely deployment of Artificial Intelligence at $15.7 trillion by 2030. These gains would not disappear in thin air but would surely be tantamount to increasing the purchasing power of the consumers and raising the standard of living.2
Job polarization is the phenomenon in which the middle-class employees’ jobs which require some limited level of expertise reduce in the economy and the number of jobs requiring high-skilled workers increase and this is surely going to be one of the effects of swift uptake of technology. But this phenomenon must not discourage the human civilization from adopting advanced and quite helpful technologies.
Instead, this is the scene in which the Legislative and political side of the economy needs to enter. It would be best for Policymakers to bring into being such a form of education and teaching infrastructure which would prepare the future generations for witnessing unbelievable disruptions. Bracing the Human material to take up their job as the drivers of tomorrow’s economy would be a step of caution.
More than 70% of people are willing to augment their brains and bodies to improve their employment prospects.3
Such an initiative and thought on part of the workforce itself radiates optimism and brightens the whole horizon for a future embedded with Technological innovations.
Thus, there is not necessarily a trade-off between advanced technology and rising unemployment. Rather, technology can empower the workforce and ensure an economy with the highest level of employment possible (excluding frictional unemployment).
These generalizations require some strong action on part of every stakeholder of an economy for realizing this ideal economy. Technology can provide a panacea for every ill that a suffering workforce may need.
This brings my attention to the fast-raging and quick-moving method of educating oneself through educational resources available online. Such resources available online can have vast implications for an efficient increase in the skills and capacity of the workforce. What has to happen will happen inevitably despite the nature of the outcome.
“HUMANS WILL ALWAYS BE NEEDED”
-Amazon’s Tye Brady, Chief Technologist, on robotics replacing humans4
He very aptly pronounced a future counter-statement to the tradeoff by saying- “The process is a symphony of both humans and machines. The function does not work if one of the variables is removed.”
He further went on to remark- “Not even one ounce of my body sees a future where Amazon has a completely automated warehouse”
1 Industrial Revolution, 2014, https://www.britannica.com/event/Industrial-Revolution
2 Sizing the price, 2017, https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/issues/data-and-analytics/publications/artificial-intelligence-study.html
3 PwC,2018,https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/services/people-organisation/workforce-of-the-future/workforce-of-the-future-the- competing-forces-shaping-2030-pwc.pdf
4 Robots ‘to replace up to twenty million factory jobs’ by 2030, https://www.bbc.com/news/business-48760799#:~:text=About%201.7%20million%20manufacturing%20jobs,million%20industrial%20robots%20by%202030
By Amitesh Kumar Jha
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