The Future of our Jobs

Over the past couple of decades, the world has experienced a rapid advancement in technology, particularly in artificial intelligence. Not too long ago were the computers invented yet enormous growth has already been witnessed. In fact, it is just the other day when virtual reality was only imaginary, but today people can interact with virtual environments. Therefore, it is not surprising that the debate on whether artificial intelligence is a tool that will entirely replace humans or complement human workers is very live today. In fact, a significant number of stakeholders are concerned with what will happen the moment intelligent machine can do all that humans can do and with much effectiveness and speed. Recently, automation and robotics have been responsible for numerous industrial action led by workers union in protest to implementation of faster, efficient, and high-quality machine driven manufacturing. Nevertheless, it is very unlikely that employees will sustain the fight against machine, as companies, government, and private business owners will seek to adopt more cost-effective methods of production to remain competitive in the global market. As a matter of facts, the most successful companies in the world today seem to rely more on artificial intelligence in delivery of their goods and services. Similarly, countries are finding it more prudent to invest in military technology rather than employee thousand of uniformed personnel. Smart machines are replacing cashiers, and the list goes on and on. The aim of this essay is to evaluate the future of humans employment in the wake of smart machines. Particular attention will be given to the stakeholders contribution to the topic as well as the expected changes and their effects on human life and the global economy.

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Evidentially, machines are taking over jobs previously held by people by replicating humans skills at a faster rate than was previously imagined. As a result, top computer scientists have warned that artificial intelligence can lead to massive unemployment and dislocated economies soon. On the other hand, some expert considers the takeover by machines as something that should be embraced as it will free man to watch television, travel and enjoy life instead of being stuck in the workplace for the better part of someone life. However, a report released by Oxford University suggests that exponential growth of automation may lead to greater inequality in the society. Despite the difference in opinion on whether automation and artificial intelligence will bring positive or adverse changes to the world as we know it today, either party seems to agree on the inevitability of robots and AI takeover in the workplace. In fact, the world appears to be approaching a time when smart machines will outperform human being at almost everything. Therefore the question of what humans will do once their jobs are taken over by machines has never been more relevant. Besides, a life characterized by pursuance of leisure activities alone is not appealing to all people particularly those who consider work to be important for personal well-being.

According to Stephen Hawking, uncontrolled development in artificial intelligence (AI) could spell doom to the human race. World Economic Forum report approximate that well over five million jobs opportunities will be lost to artificial intelligence by the year 2020 due to the rise of robots in developed and emerging economies. Technology at Work report indicates that 47% of employees in the United States and 37% of workers in the United Kingdom are at risk of losing their jobs. China records even a much higher risk of automation at 77%. Currently, majority of the employment in this risky bracket are the low-skilled services such as manufacturing industries and call centers. But with swiftly growing machines ability even more skilled jobs will be better done by machines. Consider, for instance, the encroachment by machines going on in the financial industry where algorithms are recommending financial savings option in same but faster way than the financial advisors. A full takeover by robot advisors will leave millions of people in the industry jobless. Besides, jobs once believed quintessentially human such as decrypting handwriting or piloting a car are now replaceable due to improved machine learning algorithms and big data revolution.

All indicators point to obsolescence of human labor. Train drivers, car drivers, hospital and office porter, astronaut and space explorers, floor cleaners, teachers and lectures, lab technicians and scientists, pharmacists, security guards, airplane pilots are some of the free jobs that are likely to be taken over by robots. Such kind of automated future poses two fundamental threats; the first one indicating that humans will irritate robots forcing them to dominate and obliterate the human race. For now, Hollywood should be left to worry about that first threat as the rest of humanity figure out how the resources will be distributed in a world without work. Either everyone will enjoy leisure in such a world if the resources are redistributed, or the owners of the machines will accumulate all the wealth turning the rest of the population into their slave. In fact, Brexit and the United States election seem to suggest that majority of the people are starting to feel the need for resources redistribution as evidenced by the growing number of individuals for anti-establishment. This shift from resources distribution based on contribution to a system where income is a human right must confront the conundrum of remaking the fundamental principles that hold the society together today.

However, a biased focus on technologys replacement or substitutionary role fails to recognize how it can also be complementary. Although job loss will inevitably continue in numerous fields, advancement in automation, artificial intelligence, and robotics will bring some gains to various spheres just like in the past. For instance, it is through automation that the speed and accuracy of medical diagnosis and treatments have been significantly improved. According to Watson, these create demand for more doctors with the necessary skills to operate supercomputers. Nevertheless, this advantage is also likely to cause polarization of the labor market along education lines as demand grows on high and low ends. It is unlikely that automation will replace highly skilled managerial, technical, and professional occupation, just as it is difficult and uneconomical to automate service jobs that require little education such as janitors and hairstyles. Despite the short-term adverse effects associated with such polarization of employment; long-term consequences should not be exaggerated. Therefore, there is a high possibility that the high rate of unemployment being experienced around the world today has little to do with advancement in technology. Some researchers indicate that job selectiveness, unwillingness to relocate and failure to apply may be other reasons contributing to unemployment, particularly in the United States.

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As mentioned above, truck-drivers might be next in line if the various self-driving car projects by Google, Uber, and Tesla are completed successfully. On the other hand, a successful implementation of self-driving trucks will significantly help companies that deliver goods cross-country because the trucks will not have to take mandatory breaks after several hours on the road. In addition, errors made by trucks drivers and other vehicles drivers claim four thousand live each year in the United States alone. Computer simulated drivers will make zero error in judgment on the road which means the number of traffic accidents fatalities is likely to reduce significantly. Nevertheless, such a breakthrough would have a serious knock-on effect for employment. A total of 3.5 million drivers together with other 5.2 people whose work relate to the transport industry would lose their jobs within the United States alone. Also, some of the small towns whose economic viability depends solely on the long-distance drivers would turn into ghost town wrecking millions of lives. Washing is another industry that machines are slowly taking over. Transformation of clothes cleaning a duty that had to take hours now only takes a push of a button. Also, mechanization of the construction industry by power driven equipment have replaced most of the human worker but immensely improved on efficiency and speed. Therefore, advancement in technology maybe leading to loss of some jobs; but at the same time eliminating labor-intensive, by-hand calculations that are time-consuming and replacing them with much faster automated solutions. Undoubtedly, such development changes boost not only the quality of life but also the safety of human workers. In such case, the majority are happy with the development in technology despite the disappearance of jobs.

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Overall, automation and robotics will bring significant advantages to select few stakeholders such as top learners and the well-educated. High earners and the highly educated will enjoy most of the benefits that come from an exponential increase in companies productivity and a growing demand for employees with highly skilled technical know-how. Sadly, most of the other people will be forced to relocate or retrain once their jobs are taken over by smart machines. According to a research paper released by the National Bureau of Economic Research; productivity always rises with advancement in technology. Another study also confirms that increase in the use of robots led to increased total factories productivity and wages. Moreover, the effect also increased labor value and productivity which means each worker became more productive adding more value to the economy than they would have done before implementation of industrial automation. Automation increased the GDP and labor productivity in the seventeen studied country by an average of 0.37 and 0.36 percent respectively. Although robots had no much effect on the hours worked by the high skilled personnel, low-skilled employees were crowded out. Moreover, it is expected that even more development in technology and automation will result in further increased productivity and value addition to the labor dynamics.

Furthermore, automation has make work and exploration possible in places where the humans cannot access. Robots can be useful in carry out the tasks in hot and cold environments without having to adjust the temperatures. Similarly, exploration of areas that were previously out of reach has now been made possible at a minimized risk to human life. That notwithstanding, further automation of cognitive task might be the only solution to some of the ethical issues encountered in the workplace today. Unlike humans, machines are unlikely to waste the working hours for other personal activities or ask for a bribe to complete a particular task. Financial scandals could be detected and prevented before they happen if automation transforms auditing allowing for real-time audits of both government and private institutions. Such smart technologies would be of great help to countries where corruption and financial fraud resembles a chronic disease. However, government and other organizations can be expected to oppose such algorithms because they will do a real-time analysis of the company financial health which might not be good for business.

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Based on the above discussion, government, business owners, and the scientist are the most influential stakeholders in determination of the future of jobs. Although expert should not be limited regarding innovation, their perspective of the human life and employment has a significant influence on the shape of the future workplace environment. Business owners are relevant stakeholders because majority of the automation research are capital intensive; it the company owner who fund such research institutions. Overall, the governments play the most fundamental role in shaping how technology advances. It may seem like technology is a force greater than its creator forcing businesses and workers to adapt or perish, but the governments have all it take to make use of the technological advantages while at the same time mitigating the disadvantages. In fact, governments should examine the future impacts of the automation structural shift to be better placed in ensuring that the change benefits rather than harm the society. On the other hand, workers are shareholders whose voice is faint and sometimes unheard in the artificial intelligence and automation discussions. Even though they are the once who will feel the greatest impact, their contribution to the future of technology remains minimal. In fact, the workers unions opposition to adoption of machine production is both unrealistic and unsustainable in the long run.

In sum, the essay evaluated the future of human employment in the wake of rapid advancement in technology. Apparently, artificial intelligence and other machine automation are set to take over a majority of the jobs performed by humans today in future. This will presumably result in massive unemployment particularly for workers with little education. As a remedy, employees may be forced to relocate and take other jobs or pursue higher education to possess the necessary skills to supplement intelligent machines. However, despite the unemployment disadvantage, devices are expected to increase productivity hence contribute to higher economic growth of both individuals and governments. Exploration, quality, and speed are other areas likely to benefits from automation of the production and delivery processes. Finally, states were identified as the primary stakeholders in the subject of discussion with a duty and obligation to protect annihilation of the human race and ensure that future technology benefits all people.

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Oct 30, 2020 in Informative
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