Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Digital Age

One aspect of the transition we are going through is the rise of automation and robotics that is replacing many low or no skill jobs. It is estimated that as many as half of all jobs in the US will be replace with automation or robotics over the next 10-20 years. Is that true? I think it is, but maybe not to the total extent that some think may happen. The reality of the digital age is that more and more, there is technology available to do many of the tasks that people get paid to do. From manufacturing to service and from clerical to custodial, more and more work is being done by technology of some kind. There is another driving force in the mix besides the advances in technology. That is finance and cost. When it is cheaper to buy a robot and maintain it, people will be replaced. Business (and capitalism) is all about maximizing profit and lowering costs (which is not a bad thing because it has created the standard of living we all enjoy). When it costs less to automate than it does to hire human beings, businesses will do so.

There is an interesting quote in the article I read about this. One researcher states that "our ļ¬ndings thus imply that as technology races ahead, low-skill workers will reallocate to tasks that are non-susceptible to computerization—i.e., tasks requiring creative and social intelligence. For workers to win the race, however, they will have to acquire creative and social skills." I agree, but how is this going to happen? How will no or low skill workers acquire skills and abilities that are not taught in schools (and will not be anytime soon)? I think that as the transition to the digital age continues, individuals will have to adapt and learn the skills they need to succeed. If they wait for governments to provide it for them, they will be waiting for a very long time and will miss an amazing opportunity to move from boring, mundane, purposeless work, to work that is actually enjoyable, motivating, and purposeful.

What do you think?