Technology is responsible for many of the improvements in modern lifestyles. In fact, robots are slowly becoming an accepted part of daily life. Although the debate about artificial intelligence rages on, the standard robot is simply a machine programmed to undertake a task.
The question is, whether this use of technology is replacing jobs. After all, technology is designed to make life easier but this is not likely to be possible if you suddenly find yourself without work!
The Facts of Job Losses
It is certainly true that jobs in many sectors have declined in recent years. Some of these jobs have simply been taken by third world countries where the work can be completed for a fraction of the cost. Others have been taken by robots; manufacturing is one sector which has already seen significant advancements in this sector.
According to a McKinsey study the current level of automation technology has the capability to automate as much as 45% of work tasks that are currently performed by people. What is interesting is that this level of automation has not already happened.
This is where the debate truly lies. Most people agree that continuing technological advancements will result in job losses. However, whilst this means technology is replacing jobs, there are plenty of signs that this is a temporary measure and brings a range of benefits to the average person.
It is easy to say that a benefit of technology taking y employment is the addition quality free time experienced. However, for this to be quality time people need to feel satisfied in the role and earning money. Instead of being a catch-22 type issue; technological unemployment has led to an increased diversity and safety:
- Diversity – People who have lost their jobs to technological advancements can find jobs in other sectors. Of course, this means more people are chasing the same jobs and this makes it harder to secure employment. However, in many cases this has led to people looking for new and creative ways to earn money.
These people have branched out from the traditional model of employment to find their own way of working; in the process many have created a better way of life for themselves. Technology is replacing jobs; but it is pushing people to become more innovative and actually have a better quality of life.
- Safety – The automotive industry is an excellent example of where technology has improved jobs. Instead of workers having to do the heavy, manual work, there are now robots to take care of these details. However, these robots need monitoring and maintaining. This is safer and easier to do physically than the original job. Although there may be some job losses the overall result are better quality jobs for those which continue in the industry.
One technological breakthrough which has certainly not stolen any jobs is the internet. This is one of the greatest achievements in recent history; the ability to communicate across the globe in seconds.
It has also provided the opportunity for many people to generate their own income on a much more flexible basis. In fact, the internet has revolutionized the way business people think and react to the world. This technology has created thousands of job opportunities!
The internet has become an essential part of any business; marketing has been revolutionized by this technological breakthrough. However, this technology is definitely generating job opportunities and even helping people find work in places they would never have previously considered!
There are two clear schools of thought regarding whether technology is replacing jobs.
- The Optimist
This includes those people who see that short term job losses are generated by technological improvements and process automation. However, the people who lose their jobs will find better work within the same industry or will branch into new fields in the medium term. The long term effect on employment is negligible as people simply adapt and move forward.
- The Pessimist
The other school of thought is that every automated process represents the loss of several jobs which can never be replaced. This is why the levels of unemployment in the last century have been a much bigger concern than they have ever been before. Unfortunately, this view point does not allow for the increase in population due to health improvements and people living longer. There are simply more people competing for every job!
The answer to whether technology is replacing jobs lies in your outlook on life; humans are experts at adapting and this will continue for the foreseeable future.