Is technology taking over our jobs?
World leaders strive to keep people out of their country, in fear that immigrants are ‘stealing jobs’, overlooking other entities. People aren’t the reason for disappearing jobs – robots are.
In today’s world, production, communication, energy and other systems are rapidly changing, disrupting and causing a global crisis. Getting closer to developing artificial intelligence (AI) sounds like great progress. However, it might just be the biggest threat facing humanity. In a conference at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tesla chief executive Elon Musk compared AI to “summoning the demon”. He also claimed that it could potentially be more dangerous than nuclear weapons. Even though AI is fairly limited, the effect it has had on jobs worldwide is noticeable.
Ferom, a British think tank based in London, reported that over 250,000 admin jobs in the UK could be overtaken by automated systems and artificial intelligence, by 2030. Admin roles, whose roles are repetitive and predictable, are at an even bigger risk. The NHS is at great risk, as it could reduce its headcount by approximately 90,000 just in administrators. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has also reduced its admin staff from 96,000 to 60,000 in the last ten years by providing more online services.
The effects of advanced technology on jobs are seen worldwide. In the US, it was reported that 86% of manufacturing jobs were lost between 1997 and 2007. Michael Hicks and Srikant Devaraj, both well-known economists, revealed that the major job shortage was a result of rising productivity, which led a rise in automated machines. As a result, companies would end up producing more with fewer people, generating a higher revenue. It is also estimated that technology could replace a further 47% of US labour workers. Trump, the self-anointed “greatest job producer God has ever created”, will need a miracle to prevent the impact of technology on US jobs.
Changying Precision Technology, a Chinese mobile phone production company, has replaced 90% of human workers with robots, seeing production rise by 250%. The company used to employ 650 people, but now only 60 people are employed, while robots do the rest. If computers replace some of the people now doing this by providing an automated system, there will be far more white-collar workers in the dole queue.
It’s not just labour workers that are at risk. Journalists might suffer the same fate. Wan Xiaojun, a professor at Peking University, has developed a robot capable of producing articles with over 300 characters in one second. The robot, named Xiao Nan, has a stronger and faster ability to analyse data given and writing stories than human writers.
Just because technology can replace jobs, doesn’t mean it will. Technology is only replacing jobs where it can deliver a better service for a lower cost. “Robots are still unable to conduct face-to-face interviews and respond intuitively with follow-up questions. They also do not have the ability to select the news angle from an interview or conversation’’ said Wan. In addition to creating more jobs in different sectors, advanced technology can also help enhance the delivery of public services, making it better and safer for humans.