Throughout the history of mankind, there has always been a conflict of interest between technological advancement and the effect it has on the normal way of life. According to McKinsey Global Institute partner, The biggest of all challenges end up showing in the production industries. For instance, in the beginning of the 19th century, agriculture and other production fields experienced drastic changes due to the industrial revolution.This sparked a series of strikes, for instance, the protest by artisans over the introduction of textile mills in the US. However, in this age, we face a totally different problem.
How Is The Introduction Of Robotics and IoT Different From Industrialization?
Well, while it is true that all advancements in technology have a serious impact on the job market, the technological advancements being introduced at this age are nothing compared to what has been seen before. During the industrial revolution, the introduction of industries meant increased production capacity. This may have directly affected those who worked as product manufacturers but on the other hand, it favored distributors, managers, coordinators and raw material producers. The twist in our age of robotics is the introduction of Artificial Intelligence(AI). The dawn of AI does not only mean that the production processes will be done by machines but rather, everything done by human hands, brains and feelings will be taken over by machines. This eliminates the need for human workforce in the production process, distribution process or even in the production of raw materials.
The Brighter Side Of Automation
Automation is not the villain. On many occasions in the past, automation had been condemned before something good came out. For instance, around 500 years ago, Queen Elizabeth I denied the patent to a knitting machine, citing the effect it would have on women who relied on knitting as the source of their income. 200 years later, the machine had been adopted and created more jobs and opportunities than those that had been lost. The same scenario had been witnessed during the mechanization of farm production in the US. Many thought the mechanization meant loss of jobs but on the contrary, it simply brought about the creation of more jobs through increased farm products. Increased farm products led to economic growth and hence people got jobs in other fields including food processing industries, banks, insurance firms and so on. However, the problem with robotics is that they are taking total control over the industries. For instance, banking, insurance, production, retail and so on are all becoming automated. So what does the future hold for the working class?
The Future Of Work In The Age Of Artificial Intelligence
According to a Forester Research Report, https://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/07/jobs-report-robots-will-make-future-reports-even-more-dire.html, close to 15 million jobs will be created in the US over the next decade due to Automation. These jobs will mainly be based in the technological field such as the creation of hardware, software, data processing, data management, and so on. This is seen as the same scenario experienced in the 1920s when a large chunk of the farm workers was absorbed to work in the industries. A keen look at these figures, however, gives worrying statistics. If in a decade, the jobs created due to industrialization will be 15 million in the US, this only represents 10% of the total workforce. Which means, there will still be a lack of jobs since the automation industry alone cannot absorb all the workforce dismissed from all the other industries.
The Bigger Picture
What most people do not seem to see with all the automation and IoT is the change in the definition of work. While traditionally work has been defined as waking up early and spending your day in the office, the IoT brings a different perspective to work. Today, over 50 million Americans work from home. These are jobs created by Automation and IoT. The impact of Automation is creating freedom for workers. If you look keenly, you will realize that the Automation of shopping means that everybody can shop online while at the same time they can sell online. For instance, Uber is the largest Taxi company by automation and IoT. The advantage being, it creates more employment than any single taxi company in the world. Another example is Airbnb, this makes everybody who has an apartment a tenant and people do not need to be employed by a real estate agent to make cash through rental properties. Shopify, on the other hand, opens the world for everybody to be a retail store owner other than working in a retail store. The opportunities to create employment are just but opening up, however, the working community must change their perspective of work in order to tap into the new reality.