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In The Fourth Industrial Age Robots Are Out To Steal Your Jobs, Humans!

In The Fourth Industrial Age Robots Are Out To Steal Your Jobs, Humans!

Digital technology is galvanising a colossal change, influencing every aspect of our personal and professional lives. There is a global buzz about the beginning of a fourth industrial revolution with path-breaking developments in robotics, genetics, artificial intelligence and nanotechnology among many others. The impact of this mammoth change will be unlike anything that was seen before, creating newer avenues and patterns of employment, consumption and production.

Fear still looms large on whether the job disruptions caused by technology will be momentary as the workforce adapts, or will there be a scenario akin to a sci-fi script where robots and automated processes take over the human tasks.

Technology is definitely widening the gap between the teach savvy and everyone else, creating extremely precarious times for the economy and traditional human employment. Global business consultancy McKinsey predicts far higher levels of artificial intelligence and development of distributed autonomous corporations that will be able to carry out set objectives autonomously, without any direct human supervision.

The debate about the human future in an automated world has assumed unprecedented significance as we have become subservient to these kinds of automation in many ways, expecting them to just know what to do and go ahead and do the task for us. These growing concerns make it imperative to understand the need to walk in arms with the growing technological advancements for our own benefit.

The future of employment will depend to a large extent on this effective human-automation partnership and the need to survive the tech takeover.

Evolve Or Perish

Growing demands are being made across the globe for a basic income in the scenario of increasing job losses to automation. These new implications to the future of work, with automation taking over, have garnered substantial support. Ensuring a basic income will aid in innovation by allowing people to start their own ventures, take risks and leave the jobs that they don’t fit into.

A universal basic income is essential to the future of work as automation increases. Basic income helps innovation by allowing people to take job risks, start businesses, and leave jobs that aren’t a good fit. A recent Swiss protest saw humans dressed as robots supporting the implementation of the universal basic income, reflecting the human face of AI.

The supporters of this belief argue that this is probably one of the best ways to create jobs in modern societies while pushing for technological advances. While Switzerland rejected the referendum for a universal basic income on grounds of no clarity on how to fund the action, the stark reality of job loss to automation has added another facet to it.

Every segment of the human population privy to this monumental change is facing the natural consequence of this technological innovation – the quest for acquisition of new types of skills. While the pace of technological development has been galloping with every passing moment, skill development has not been able to match its steps, creating a dangerous imbalance. And the present scenario doesn’t paint an optimistic picture.

Workforce For The Machine Age

Investment in technology is not the only solution and answer to our woes as we need to support the tech growth with investment in skills and knowledge to prepare for the future. Digital transformation has the potential to create a significant number of jobs with World Economic Forum estimates amounting to nearly six million jobs in just the electricity and logistics industries by 2025.

The demand for new multidisciplinary digital skills is mounting along with the need for rapid reskilling and up-skilling of its present workforce. The fear of technology including robotics and AI replacing human tasks has been looming large. However, if the pace of skill development can match up with the pace of tech evolution, this worst-case scenario can be averted and the same technology can be used to augment human skills.

New age skills of upcoming segments including cloud computing, extensive and growing use of social media, AI etc., have become the need of the hour. But our education system is paying very less attention to these upcoming domains and not equipping students in the relevant skills making only 43 per cent of the current youth to be considered in the fully employable category.

A reinvention will need a vast paradigm shift to develop the tools of change needed to survive in the algorithm age. The demographic dividend if not given the treatment of skills may simply turn into a demographic disaster. The imbalance between the too few skilled workers and fewer jobs for the medium and low-skilled workforce is pointing towards the impending disaster.

To ignore the present scenario will be at one’s own peril as the youth today is caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. To compete with the potential billion plus job seekers by 2050 and the technology takeover now is the time to arm yourself with the required skill sets.

Author

Prakash Menon

Community

Prakash Menon is President, Global Skills and Careers Group, NIIT Ltd

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