Technology and the Future of Work

Technological proficiency is essential for most business positions in the modern work climate. Internet-based faxing, laser printers, networked computers and advanced phone systems are common devices in businesses of all sizes and have become the standard norm in all modern day business operations. Moreover, the industrial sector has become the foundation of technological progression as the majority of tasks can now be automated. With the industrial workplace being revolutionized by technology, as humans we simply can’t compete with machines, they beat us on nearly all fronts. Rifkin, a well known activist on such matters, addresses the issues that may be faced within future of our jobs. He maintains that machines and computers have taken over nowadays, ergo, the end of work is near. Due to the speed and efficiency of technology, Rifkin maintains that productivity is rising over time, yet the value of labour is depreciating. Thus, this devaluation of work is problematic. That being said, this brings light to the discussion topic of technological unemployment, often referred to as the Luddite Fallacy.

The adoption of labor displacing technologies as mentioned above can generally be classified under mechanization, automation, and process improvement. Mechanization and automation involve transferring tasks from humans to machines. Process improvement involves the elimination of tasks altogether. In essence, with the combination of all three elements a task is removed from a workforce in turn decreasing employment. This brings rise to many arguments with opposing views which states that there is a negative correlation with technological change and unemployment. Many like Jeremy Rifkin believe that the road to a near-workerless economy is within sight. However when assessing Rifkin’s arguments, I find a few points troubling and many factors are not being taken into account. Although convincing to people who have suffered job loss due to automation and computers, I contend that there is more hope than Rifkin sees. What I see is that our era is becoming extremely competitive and is causing more people to return to school or to pursue higher education in order to keep up with the competition. Although this short-term occurrence of pursuing one`s education is not supplying much to our economy, once these people graduate, many countries will have a higher rate of people that are tapped into the innovations of the Information Age. The education that people are pursuing and the new grounds that they are entering in their fields of IT, software and sciences, to name a few, will inevitably lead to new ideas and new ways of working. When entering anything new, it is scary and it looks bleak, but there have been many jobs that have been created due to technological advancement and due to the competitive edge in technology, where a person’s IPAD is out of date on the day of purchase. Rifkin does not consider that this new age technology has allowed people to open up their own businesses and to be more financially independent. For instance, the invention of the internet has produced self-made millionaires and has made people come up with innovative ideas using new technologies. Moreover, the internet has also allowed people who are bound at home or stay at home parents, to consider an income from home. The internet and technologies that facilitate communications, like Blackberries and IPhones, have allowed for the economic independence and for people to work from home accordingly.

Additionally, no one tends to spend too much time talking about how the decrease in the workweek for some. The professionals that we have nowadays are currently experiencing shorter workweeks because they are getting their business matters done more quickly due to technology. Laptops, digital cameras and notebooks work quickly and produce high quality work. As a result, people are not spending too much time on menial tasks, because the quality of pictures, the innovations included for writers and research, to name a few industries, are all facilitated by technology and having innovations come through the door on a daily basis. Furthermore, shorter workweeks have already resulted for internet entrepreneurs who make money more easily and not on an hourly basis. The Information Age has brought about some positive changes and has empowered many people to either be independent of companies, or by making money on their own, and by maximizing their time, through earning money without working on an hourly rate. This new era has shown that people are not needed in assembly lines and in factories. When automation takes over, people are almost forced to find new ways of making money and earning a living. The internet and technology has facilitated this process and it has encouraged people to be more creative and innovative. The new era looks positive because it is removing people from mindless and unskilled labour, to a more inventive and entrepreneurial position in their careers.

Therefore, as my conclusion I would have to inform the readers that I firmly believe more jobs are being created nowadays than being destroyed. The new knowledge sector of our economy will mostly consist of elites like scientists, technicians, computer programmers, consultants and educators. The facts given above indicate that we are giving more value to our education and wisdom nowadays. I believe that professionalism brings high hopes for our Information Age and most professionals too are convinced that the “Third Industrial Revolution” – if it happens – will allow for more job opportunities. Thus, the focus of this article was mostly on the view of technology empowering the human race since it tends to open up our minds to accomplish incredible feats. Technology also provides us with tools to create amazing things. Thus, as every industry experiences technological progression more jobs will be created than destroyed. In other words, it is my belief that within the future of work we will see a decline in general labor jobs, countered by a much larger incline in the information technology and other supporting sectors. In other words, the people out of work today will soon find jobs again, but the work won’t be the same.

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