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Why You Should be Afraid of the Technological Revolution (Especially If You Own a Job)

Why You Should be Afraid of the Technological Revolution (Especially If You Own a Job)

Have you noticed how technology has taken over –almost- all aspects of your life? Autopilot allows you to relax while commuting, an app helps you find love, you have a personal digital assistant in your phone, printers can print out 3D objects for you, sun powers up your home, your pills are dispensed by a robot at the pharmacy, software manages the HR system at your office, the Internet takes care of everything you ever need, from shopping to starting a social movement and soon drones will deliver your mails and online purchases.

These, my friend, are the results of the 4th Industrial Revolution (that you might have not known about) that is underway. If this is just the start, imagine your life five years from now!

The 4th Industrial Revolution, which is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres, has started fundamentally altering the way human beings live, work and interact with each other. This has resulted in an array of socio-economic and demographic changes.

The World Economic Forum has been able to take the first step in measuring these changes (threats?) at hand. Their extensive survey, which involves the participation of more than 13 million employees across 9 industrial sectors in 15 major developed and emerging economies, sheds light on the impact of the 4th Industrial Revolution on the global workforce, which ultimately will alter (if not complicate) our lifestyle.

5.1 Million Jobs to be Lost over the Period 2015-2020

According to the calculations derived from the survey, the “disruptive changes” (caused by the revolution) will lead to a total loss of 7.1 million jobs (with a total gain of 2 million jobs) over the period 2015-2020.

Most disruptive changes that will cause a massive transformation in the global labor force are technology related;

  • Mobile internet and cloud technology
  • Advances in robotics and autonomous transport
  • The Internet of Things, Big Data and computing power
  • Artificial intelligence and machine development
  • Advanced manufacturing and 3D printing
  • Alternative energy technology
  • Apps, software, ecommerce websites etc.

In addition, the global workforce will also be affected by socio- economic, geopolitical and demographic changes (some of which are the results of the technology related changes mentioned above);

  • Flexible working hours
  • Remote working, co-working, teleconferencing etc.
  • Rise of the middle class in emerging markets
  • Depletion of natural resources and climate change
  • Globalization and rapid urbanization

These changes will not only affect the way people work but the work itself, meaning human labor or input in finishing tasks or projects will no longer be required since machines, robots, AI or software will do it instead.

A Transformation that is both Rewarding and Challenging

The transformation caused by technological advances will come with opportunities as well as challenges.

The opportunities, of course, are aplenty. As more efficient machines, AI, software, robots etc. take over various tasks that take several people and several hours (if not days) to complete, productivity in organizations will soar. This will lead to rises in company income levels that will in turn contribute to boosting the world economy.

Manufacturing processes that require heavy man labor will be carried out by advanced machines that are much faster, and that will lead to substantially reduced manufacturing and production costs. Advances in communication (social media networks, online video communication etc.) and transportation (drones, electric vehicles, vehicles with autopilot) will reduce costs in distribution and trade as well.

Individuals will be able to go about their personal lives much more comfortably and efficiently with the aid of technological devices at their disposal. For example autopilot technology will be developed further making it 10x safer than manual driving. And advances in communication and transportation will make it easier for people to connect with each other across the globe, travel from one place to another and fulfill their daily needs in a matter of minutes.

Alternative energy will help nations free themselves of their dependency on fossil fuel and gradually move towards building greener economies.

Overall the 4th Industrial Revolution will raise global income levels as well as improve the quality of life for people around the world.

On the other hand, the transformation will bring with it a lot of challenges to the global population as well as to the environment. Advanced technology will make human labor and input obsolete, putting millions of people out of jobs.

Jobs that were exclusively done by humans only a decade ago are now being replaced by robots, software, AI, machines, apps etc. and within the next decade or so, these jobs will become completely extinct. The more people become dependent on technology the more it will affect the creativity and the competency of humans.

Advancements in technology has led to faster and more fatal weapons, airplanes, bomb carrying vehicles that have aggravated warfare and criminal activity around the world. Drone technology is illegally being used in the distribution and trade of drugs.

The development and the implementation of technology will also lead to loss of habitats, depletion of natural resources and the ozone layer, chemical contaminations, enhanced global warming, and thus posing threats to both the environment and the health of human beings and animals.

Jobs that are Threatened by Automation and Computerization

As technology progresses, the demand for human beings to fulfill job roles will decline, as more competent and efficient machines, software, AI, robots would do the job for a lesser cost and without taking any breaks!

Automation and computerization are threatening a swarm of white-collar jobs such as accountants, bookkeepers, local government administrative workers, postal workers, translators and interpreters, pharmacists etc. Blue-collar jobs such as utility company engineers, delivery and taxi drivers, couriers etc. are also being threatened by automation.

According to the research by the WEF, most jobs that are threatened thus are concentrated in the Office and Administrative job family.

On the other hand, a steady growth in biotechnology jobs (geneticists, microbiologists etc.), alternative energy jobs (wind energy engineers and technicians etc.), and information technology and software jobs can be expected over the next 5-10 years.

As 65% of the children entering primary school today will be working in new jobs that don’t yet exist; hence, new job types such as organizational development specialists, new type of marketing specialists, data analysts, engineers etc. will also emerge.

The Impact of the Transformation on Employee Skills

All these changes will inevitably have an impact on the company recruitment patterns as well as on skills required of employees, those who are currently employed as well as those who are looking to be employed.

Having extensive technical skills, such as trouble shooting, equipment operation, maintenance and repair, will be essential to securing a job in the future job market that will be changed by the widespread technological revolution.

In addition, cognitive abilities and process skills such as creativity, critical and logical thinking, mathematical reasoning etc. will be required of individuals looking to get a job in any field. Among other skills are emotional intelligence, complex problem solving skills, negotiation kills, decision –making skills, physical strength and social skills.

 

The 4th Industrial Revolution will not have an immediate impact on the world’s population, but its consequences, which have already started to affect the global population, will gradually transform the way people live and work to the way people die. Educating oneself of the change that is occurring is the first step towards future-proofing oneself against the challenges that are surfacing. Keep on learning and broadening your horizons, the future will not be the same!

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Amanda Athuraliya is the communication specialist/content writer at Cinergix, the team behind the development of Creately Flowchart Software. She is an avid reader, a budding writer and a passionate researcher who loves to write about all kinds of topics.

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