Is Technology Destroying More Jobs Than it is Creating?

We now have technological innovations that have gone as far as creating robots you can interact with and give orders to. If I am not wrong, you can now even get yourself a robot girlfriend if you have failed to find your perfect woman. Do you remember the cartoon show ‘The Jetsons’? Well, then you must certainly remember the flying cars and Rosie, the robot, from this futuristic animated kids’ show! That’s the world of future that Hanna-Barbera wittingly portrayed in this show. Everything becomes automated. Sounds so exciting but is technology becoming your new rival to score a job? It could be.

Machines may be very well replacing humans and creating a wider rift between the number of job positions available and the number of applicable candidates for it. Humans created machines and now machines are threatening their jobs. They were supposed to make life easier for you. But, apparently they are making life for your employers so easy that they don’t need much human resources now.
Is Technology Ruining Employment Opportunities?
The world is quickly industrializing and globalizing everywhere. All countries have been influenced by the new technology available at hand. And every single day, we are only trying to outdo ourselves by creating the kind of technology you would have never imagined to be possible 10 years ago. The accelerating technology in our new automated world is quickly becoming the number one reason of the rising rate of unemployment around the world. Or maybe it already is. Take this scenario for instance:

In the 1950s, automobile industry was a flourishing industry in city X and provided employment to most of the residents including African-Americans. The jobs in this industry were respectable, paid well and even provided perks. However, all of this changed after the development of new technology that led to the automation of assembly line. This resulted in the displacement of many workers in the industry and this phenomenon spread like wildfire among all other cities, home to automobile factories, around the country. This is a story of a city that was once ranked amongst the top five largest cities of its country that housed more than 2 million people. This is the story of the “Motor City”, Detroit.

Outsourcing to technology reduces the scope for human error to almost zero. Add to that, the advantage that machines don’t complain of fatigue and take leaves. It’s efficient and reduces training costs, employee retention costs and increases the pace of work multifariously. Don’t you know, technology is soon becoming the new BFF of all profit-aiming companies. Industries predicted to follow this trend are agriculture, food processing, education, oil-refining and public sector holdings.

Has Technology Increased Employment?
The counteracting point of view is that advancement in technology has helped increase the level of output, requiring more labor to produce goods and service at such high levels. This has significantly improved levels of employment. This theory dismisses any authentic correlation between technology and unemployment. According to the supporters of this theory, technology may cause a structural change in the composition of employment, however it does not cause any negative effects and leads to absorption of workers in other industries. Citing a proof to it, is the example of the telecommunications industry. It comprises of cellphone manufacturing, network services and the Internet. The telecommunications industry provided 1 million jobs to skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled American labor in 2008, even in the face of the then ongoing situation of recession.

Structural Change
Post Industrial Revolution, the Luddite movement began as a mass protest against the automation of the textiles industry. Skilled artisans and weavers were replaced with machines to produce textiles, that were operated with unskilled labor. Although, the technological advancement with mechanization of work did lead to employment opportunities, it simultaneously took away the means of livelihood of several people employed in the art of textile making. If these people were to take up these jobs as machine loom operators, it created significant reduction in their income with less pay. Such a phenomenon of shift in employment, despite possessing specialized knowledge or skills, is often seen in many industries and is called structural unemployment.

Technology and Unemployment
Let me make this even more simpler for you to think over. Did you pay attention to the background story of the movie/novel “Up in the Air”? George Clooney is a corporate down-sizer whose job is to fire people. Ironically, he loses his job after he is replaced by video-conferencing! Umm… yah, the company discovered that they don’t have to pay for his traveling and hotel stay expenses, plus they will save up on his salary and cut down costs too if they start firing people over video-conferencing. It’s not just you on your treadmill, companies have tightened up their belts and are losing the flab too, the smart way… err… by firing people.

Frankenstein was a warning to all mankind about the impending consequences of technology. Constant evolution in the world of technology is quickly ending the game for most people with manual labor jobs or average jobs that have no significant contribution to the development and financial progress of companies. Even non-corporate jobs are under fire. Word of advice, better buckle up now and become an important part of your company that it cannot do without before it disposes you more unexpectedly than the next price hike. You may soon not see any cashiers in supermarkets and waiters or waitresses in restaurants with the advent of new technological innovations, for billing and placing orders respectively, that will replace the need for employment of human resources at these places.

by Urvashi Pokharna.

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