All through history the coming of revolutionary technologies such as the railroad, the automobile, and the telephone have always had an effect on employment and jobs. With the advent of the computer revolution some decades ago, most occupations are continuously undergoing a fundamental transformation in processes as well as skills required. This has seen some skilled persons in such processes, which have been automated, threatened by redundancy. While some schools of thought hold that the computer revolution is a threat to jobs and employment. Others think it has actually created more jobs as opposed to common opinion holding that it has added skills and competence of persons within professions that have become interwoven therefore greater opportunities to always pick up a new job and expand.
According to an article by David Rotman Editor of MIT Technology Review, New technologies are encroaching into human skills in a way that is completely unprecedented. As painful as this might be to some it is an unavoidable situation as from every indication man is gradually racing with machines adds Tabi Dominique an IT enthusiasts, Tabi goes on to say it is also a great threat to wealth distribution which might have adverse effects on political systems in the future, he cited an example in Rotman’s article of someone who creates a computer program to automate tax preparation, this programmer will earn millions or billions of dollars while eliminating the need for countless accountants. Ngatchu Damen, Faculty at the School of Information Technology at the Catholic University Institute of Buea on the other extreme opines that, it is a sluggish ascertainment saying the recent technology revolution has actually created more jobs as through the creation of new technologies; new industries are emerging with different skills required to enable it work. He went on to say, the current technological revolution need not become a race between humans and machines but rather an opportunity for work to truly become easier and a channel through which people recognize their full potentials.
As the world becomes gradually automated, low skilled jobs like, custodians, restaurant workers, maids, special assistants, health aids and a host some skilled jobs like teaching, pilots, much of the banking and Health sector are at the brink of annihilation says Tabi. He revealed that today, there is either an App or device that can carry out most if not all these processes with near perfect accomplishment. He went on to underline that developments in genetics, artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing and biotechnology, to name a few, are building by the day and becoming more complex. Andrew McAfee, associate Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business at the Sloan School of Management, despite his obvious enthusiasm for the technologies points out that, he does not see the recently vanishing jobs coming back. He discloses that the pressure on employment and the results will only get worse, saying “I would like to be wrong,” “but when all these science-fiction technologies are deployed, what will we need all the people for?”
This scenario painted by McAfee will rapidly stir up emotions for professionals in some of the cited professions who have had time to watch movies like The Terminator, I Robot and a host of films and documentaries that have revealed the power of the recent technological revolution. With reference to this, Damen states clearly that humans will always have a role to play, adding it will be absurd to categorically hold that machines will operate autonomously and completely independent of Humans. “The role of humans is not limited to doing the critical technical tasks of programing the machines but also the dignifying task of using the machines” says Damen. If humans do not use machines, Damen concludes, “of what good is the piece of Metal”. Damen highlights unskilled jobs will not completely vanish citing the example of a well-designed lawn mower with no use, a driverless car that will still require mechanics and someone to fix the robot when a part is faulty.
While the effect of the technological revolution is inevitable, it is not an unsolvable myth as the human race through time has always experienced changes and made adjustments towards maintaining equilibrium, Tabi suggests, it is time for the educational sector to redefined schools, college and universities programs to enable students fit into the future job market without necessarily doing away with artistic disciplines which builds the mind and soul towards rational reasoning. Damen adds that, while machines take up all laborious and manual tasks; in a satiric expression he says “human would be paid for kindness and goodness”.
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