SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Gary Arora, Zakia Bouachraoui, Liz McMillan

Blog Feed Post

Automation – Job Loss or Better Life?

Automation leads to job loss which leads to loss of income for the displaced people.

Automation also leads to cheaper goods and services improving our standard of living.

So, because of automation, some people loose out, others gain. Historically, people who have benefited, far outnumbered those who have lost out. Jobs loss in one sector has always been compensated by better paying jobs in some other sector. Agricultural job loss led to jobs in manufacturing sector. Similarly, manufacturing job loss led to jobs in the service sector. The net effect have been an improvement in standard of living for all.

Many believe that the historical trend continue. Job loss to automation will inevitably be followed by creation of new jobs in emerging sectors. New jobs will we created in areas which we are not even aware of today.

Is there any reason to doubt that this trend will not continue? That sufficient number of jobs will not be created? That we are going to witness a discontinuity?

4 Reasons why this trend may not continue

Linear thinking does not always work. Discontinuity happens. Stock bubbles do burst. Growth is never infinite. Even Chinese economy slow down.

In last few decades we have undergone a technological and social transformation which, I believe, has fundamentally altered our lives. Here are four trends which is a result of this transformation:

(1) Economy of scarcity to economy of abundance

We had always lived in an economy of scarcity where demand outstripped the supply. Most luxury items were beyond the reach of common person. When prices of products were brought down through automation more units were sold. There always were opportunity for introducing new products which will sell.

In last few decades we have made the transition from economy of scarcity to the economy of abundance. We have more choice of products and services than we can make sense of. There are too many variety of every thing. Anything that you want can be ordered in one click!

Now there is no guarantee of increased sale when the prices are brought down. There may be no takers of a product even if the price is zero.

With this abundance, the scope of introducing new products and services without cannibalizing  something existing becomes limited.

So, where is the scope of net large scale job creation?

(2) Virtual alternative to scarce product

There are and always will be products or services which will have a limited supply. The number of people who can watch the Wimbledon finals from the stadium will always be limited. But there are no limits of how many people can watch it on TV.

A trip to “Machu Picchu” may be too expensive but it is within the realm of current technology to offer a 3-D virtual tour of that place. And there will be no limit to how many people can undertake that virtual tour.

When when scares product gets replaced by virtual alternative, the real thing is only for those who really…really want it and can afford it. For others the virtual alternative is available in abundance.

More things available in abundance reduces the scope of additional products or services.

So, where is the scope of net large scale job creation?

(3) Receding limits to automation

In past, there were limits to what can be automated. It was clearly understood that we humans were good at things which involved thinking, creativity, intuition etc.  The machines were good at tasks which were repetitive. The boundary were clearly defined.

Recent technological advances have started blurring that boundary. Human stronghold is receding and receding fast. Even Magnus Carlsen cannot hope to compete with a decent chess playing program. There are legal hurdle and ethical question to a self-driven car than technology issues.

With the available technology platforms and services, new products can be introduced to an unlimited global audience with only a skeleton staff.

So, where is the scope of net large scale job creation?

(4) Law of Scalability

Those who win … win big. Every other player looses!

The benefit of automation is reaped by the creators of successful products and those who have financed it! Those who are displaced by the automation are worse off.

Few winners … many looser.

So, where is the scope of net large scale job creation?

What will the likely new world look like?

Am I predicting a doomsday scenario where there will be an elite class that enjoys all the privileged and luxury ruling over a jobless deprived class?

Not at all!

As I have explained in my earlier post [The Hunger Games and Impact of Automation] that is not a likely scenario.

What is obvious to me is that the solution is not going to be a linear extension of the past. In all likelihood the solution will “emerge” slowly from our collective wisdom. It may require, as they call it, Out-of-the-box thinking.

Once we acknowledge that there is a problem and linear thinking will not solve it, we would have taken the first major step.

Obviously, the socialist / communist solution of income redistribution has not worked. So let us not consider it.

free+premiumIn my opinion …

… we are moving towards a “Freemium Economy” powered by voluntary organizations and open source like movement funded by Venture Capitalists.

I also suggest that be will need to move beyond thinking about “Return-on-Investment”, “Productivity-Improvement”, “Market-forces-setting-the-price”, “Protection-of-Intellectual-Property.

What do I mean by all this?

Well … wait for my next post!

Related posts and reading

 

 


Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Udayan Banerjee

Udayan Banerjee is CTO at NIIT Technologies Ltd, an IT industry veteran with more than 30 years' experience. He blogs at http://setandbma.wordpress.com.
The blog focuses on emerging technologies like cloud computing, mobile computing, social media aka web 2.0 etc. It also contains stuff about agile methodology and trends in architecture. It is a world view seen through the lens of a software service provider based out of Bangalore and serving clients across the world. The focus is mostly on...

  • Keep the hype out and project a realistic picture
  • Uncover trends not very apparent
  • Draw conclusion from real life experience
  • Point out fallacy & discrepancy when I see them
  • Talk about trends which I find interesting
Google

Latest Stories
While a hybrid cloud can ease that transition, designing and deploy that hybrid cloud still offers challenges for organizations concerned about lack of available cloud skillsets within their organization. Managed service providers offer a unique opportunity to fill those gaps and get organizations of all sizes on a hybrid cloud that meets their comfort level, while delivering enhanced benefits for cost, efficiency, agility, mobility, and elasticity.
Isomorphic Software is the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications. We develop, market, and support the SmartClient & Smart GWT HTML5/Ajax platform, combining the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software with the simplicity and reach of the open web. With staff in 10 timezones, Isomorphic provides a global network of services related to our technology, with offerings ranging from turnkey application development to SLA-backed enterprise support. Leadin...
DevOps has long focused on reinventing the SDLC (e.g. with CI/CD, ARA, pipeline automation etc.), while reinvention of IT Ops has lagged. However, new approaches like Site Reliability Engineering, Observability, Containerization, Operations Analytics, and ML/AI are driving a resurgence of IT Ops. In this session our expert panel will focus on how these new ideas are [putting the Ops back in DevOps orbringing modern IT Ops to DevOps].
Darktrace is the world's leading AI company for cyber security. Created by mathematicians from the University of Cambridge, Darktrace's Enterprise Immune System is the first non-consumer application of machine learning to work at scale, across all network types, from physical, virtualized, and cloud, through to IoT and industrial control systems. Installed as a self-configuring cyber defense platform, Darktrace continuously learns what is ‘normal' for all devices and users, updating its understa...
Enterprises are striving to become digital businesses for differentiated innovation and customer-centricity. Traditionally, they focused on digitizing processes and paper workflow. To be a disruptor and compete against new players, they need to gain insight into business data and innovate at scale. Cloud and cognitive technologies can help them leverage hidden data in SAP/ERP systems to fuel their businesses to accelerate digital transformation success.
Concerns about security, downtime and latency, budgets, and general unfamiliarity with cloud technologies continue to create hesitation for many organizations that truly need to be developing a cloud strategy. Hybrid cloud solutions are helping to elevate those concerns by enabling the combination or orchestration of two or more platforms, including on-premise infrastructure, private clouds and/or third-party, public cloud services. This gives organizations more comfort to begin their digital tr...
Most organizations are awash today in data and IT systems, yet they're still struggling mightily to use these invaluable assets to meet the rising demand for new digital solutions and customer experiences that drive innovation and growth. What's lacking are potent and effective ways to rapidly combine together on-premises IT and the numerous commercial clouds that the average organization has in place today into effective new business solutions.
Keeping an application running at scale can be a daunting task. When do you need to add more capacity? Larger databases? Additional servers? These questions get harder as the complexity of your application grows. Microservice based architectures and cloud-based dynamic infrastructures are technologies that help you keep your application running with high availability, even during times of extreme scaling. But real cloud success, at scale, requires much more than a basic lift-and-shift migrati...
David Friend is the co-founder and CEO of Wasabi, the hot cloud storage company that delivers fast, low-cost, and reliable cloud storage. Prior to Wasabi, David co-founded Carbonite, one of the world's leading cloud backup companies. A successful tech entrepreneur for more than 30 years, David got his start at ARP Instruments, a manufacturer of synthesizers for rock bands, where he worked with leading musicians of the day like Stevie Wonder, Pete Townsend of The Who, and Led Zeppelin. David has ...
Darktrace is the world's leading AI company for cyber security. Created by mathematicians from the University of Cambridge, Darktrace's Enterprise Immune System is the first non-consumer application of machine learning to work at scale, across all network types, from physical, virtualized, and cloud, through to IoT and industrial control systems. Installed as a self-configuring cyber defense platform, Darktrace continuously learns what is ‘normal' for all devices and users, updating its understa...
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Addteq is a leader in providing business solutions to Enterprise clients. Addteq has been in the business for more than 10 years. Through the use of DevOps automation, Addteq strives on creating innovative solutions to solve business processes. Clients depend on Addteq to modernize the software delivery process by providing Atlassian solutions, create custom add-ons, conduct training, offer hosting, perform DevOps services, and provide overall support services.
Contino is a global technical consultancy that helps highly-regulated enterprises transform faster, modernizing their way of working through DevOps and cloud computing. They focus on building capability and assisting our clients to in-source strategic technology capability so they get to market quickly and build their own innovation engine.
When applications are hosted on servers, they produce immense quantities of logging data. Quality engineers should verify that apps are producing log data that is existent, correct, consumable, and complete. Otherwise, apps in production are not easily monitored, have issues that are difficult to detect, and cannot be corrected quickly. Tom Chavez presents the four steps that quality engineers should include in every test plan for apps that produce log output or other machine data. Learn the ste...
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...