Process efficiencies and automation of processes mean businesses can run leaner. Jobs start to shift from those whose roles can be automated, to those who can better use the technology to improve the bottom line.
There’s a company called Narrative Science that writes algorithms that analyses data and weaves information into a coherent narrative for news articles in media publications – including big media outlets such as Forbes. Narrative Science predict that within 10 years, over 90% of the news stories would be written algorithmically (1). Which would mean a lot of job losses for people in the News Media industry. In May it was announced that News Corp – Advertiser, the Australian, and other national publications – staff will be hit by a widespread round of targeted redundancies, including 55 journalists. The executive chairman, has warned publicly that long-term employees who lack digital skills would be leaving the company (2).
“On mechanical slavery, on the slavery of machines, the future of the world depends”Oscar Wilde
Those who can’t or won’t get ahead of technology risk losing their jobs. I see these trends in my work as well. Our process management system is used in the property industry, and it’s usually mandated by company higher-ups, to be used by teams on the ground. Some people take to it really well and use it to their advantage. But some struggle to use it, because they don’t have the digital literacy skills – these people look at me blankly when I say “open your web browser” … asking, “what’s a web browser”. These are the people that are at risk of having their jobs replaced by process efficiencies.
People in industrialised society have been losing their jobs to technology since the invention of the loom in the 1800s. With each industrial revolution, we see a shift in the way the world works.
The Industrial Revolutions
- First Industrial Revolution: steam-powered factories
- Second Industrial Revolution: the application of science to mass production and manufacturing
- Third Industrial Revolution: digitization
- The Fourth Industrial Revolution: the “smart factory”,
cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things, cloud computing and cognitive computing
The next industrial revolution is predicted to be the ‘automation revolution’, which predicts the complete automation of professions once thought to be inextricably human-operated. We don’t know when industry will be irreversibly revolutionized by automation. We don’t know which jobs will go away at what time, but we do know it will put a further income gap between people who have digital literacy and people who don’t. If we don’t work to close the digital divide, and we don’t see many women, older people, low-income people, and people across the world getting technical education and technical jobs, it’s going to further polarise the situation.
Society will be automated to serve those who programmed it.
Sources and Links:
- Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future by Martin Ford