Are Increases in Automation Taking Jobs Away from Workers?
There is increasing speculation about whether automation is taking jobs away from workers, whether it is creating completely new fields, or at least expanding older fields. In reality, both sides of the argument likely offer at least some partial truths. While some workers may very well see their jobs eventually disappear directly because of automation, others will see new opportunities opening up.
The push for automation generally stems from two loosely related forces. The first force is fairly traditional in nature. Businesses are always looking for ways to keep costs down in order to remain competitive. Repetitive tasks often are the first ones business owners analyze to determine if automation offers a more efficient solution. Over time, it is simply less expensive and more efficient to have machines, software programs, etc. perform repetitive tasks than to have a human perform the same job.
The second driving force behind the push for automation is artificial intelligence. The capabilities of artificial intelligence to go beyond repetitive tasks and actually make intelligent decisions based upon interaction with other machines as well as with humans, is quite phenomenal.
Change Never Stops
Whenever a new industry starts, there are going to be winners and those who lose — hopefully only temporarily. When automotive vehicles became mainstream, many people who made a living driving a horse and carriage, or who made deliveries with a team of oxen, found their services no longer needed. The truth is that change actually never stops. As industries change and new ones created, some individuals find themselves on the forefront, while others may struggle for a time.
Staying Aware and Competitive
Just as companies who want to stay in business must continually remain aware of emerging trends, so do employees. As trends come and go, it’s not uncommon for companies to periodically remake themselves almost from the ground up. Workers who want to be part of the workforce for a long time need to be savvy about their employment decisions, and be open to the possibility of training for a different career at some point in their lives. It doesn’t mean every truck driver will have to become a software developer. For the foreseeable future there will always be a need for trade employment such as plumbers, electricians, etc. It just means employees, employers, and society in general, needs to remain vigilant, flexible, and adaptable when inevitable changes actually do occur.
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