As technology advances, the number of jobs that were once done by humans decreases in number. This is the sad reality of the progress happening around the world due to innovations in digital technology. Everywhere one looks at - in schools, at home, at work – almost everything that people do uses equipment or devices that are controlled by machines. Lawyers need computers to research about results of similar cases they are handling. Doctors use the computer to get more information about illnesses they are not familiar with. Teachers encode their exams and create multimedia presentations so that students can easily understand the lessons. As more professions make use of digital technology, the number of people losing their jobs increases as well.
The automation of jobs has paved the way for people to lose their jobs. Machines and robots now perform routine work that used to be humans' turf. The economist, John Maynard Keynes, called this "technological unemployment" (Lohr), which means the powerlessness to create more jobs for humans as jobs are slowly being undertaken by machines. For instance, clerical tasks, financial accounting, bookkeeping, and record tracking, among others, can now be done easily with computers. Thus, the need for several people to work on information declines as machines slowly replace people. Even factory workers are not immune to this situation considering that a lot of their jobs are now automated and performed by robots (Lohr). Because of this, the government is not able to provide jobs to people resulting to high unemployment rates.
Despite economists' high trust on the benefits of advanced technology, new paradigms of thought are slowly emerging as the reality of technological advancement unfolds. In the e-book, Race Against the Machine, authors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew P. McAfee, while recognizing how technological advances enhance employee productivity and create an illusion of wealth in some nations, also stated that "technological progress is eliminating the need for many types of jobs and leaving the typical worker worse off than before" (Rotman). Brynjolfssen further asserted that the increases in productivity and faster innovation equates to "falling median income and fewer jobs [for the people]" (Rotman) because the skill set of humans cannot keep up with the advancements.
Even the service and retail industries have experienced the changes brought about by these advancements. For instance, in the retail industry, retailers used to conduct business with wholesalers only, which act as liaison between retailers and manufacturers. However, with the computerization of business systems and transactions, retailers now go directly to manufacturers since manufacturers often have their business information posted on the company websites. As a result, there is less interaction between wholesalers and retailers (Rifkin). Soon enough, the need for cashiers to swipe and bag customers' retail items may soon be eliminated as well considering that some retail stores are thinking of employing technology which would allow customers to simply swipe their cards in a shelf slot containing the product.
As technological innovation increases and more countries embrace globalization to further improve their business, more people consider the future bleak and uncertain. The older generation who were used to more prosperous living conditions now feels trapped by economic forces they have no control over. In European countries where unemployment is high, social unrest is rampant. The reality is technological advancement is here to stay and will only get better and better. Thus, humans must begin thinking of options on how to retool themselves and constantly upgrade their skill sets if they do not want to lose their jobs from robots and machines.
Lohr, S. (2011). More jobs predicted for machines, not people. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/24/technology/economists-see-more-jobs-for-machines-not-people.html?_r=0
Rifkin, J. (n.d.). New technology and the end of jobs. Converge.org. Retrieved from http://www.converge.org.nz/pirm/nutech.htm
Rotman, D. (2013). How technology is destroying jobs. MIT Technology Review. Retrieved from http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/515926/how-technology-is-destroying-jobs/