While robots and smart machines may soon take away most of our jobs, the striking challenges of unemployment and entrenched poverty that are faced by a nation like India may remind us of the precedence of social justice over a stubborn drive for automation.
The New Leam Staff
We are living in an age where advancements in technology are making us feel every day that we can soon be replaced. The onslaught of technological innovation is such that for most people in our offices, within our friends and family circles or even those who govern the nation the dream of an improved world is synonymous with a technologized one.
The drive to digitalise the economy, the urgency to replace cash with electronic transactions, to cut down on man-power in offices and industries and replace people with machines, the enhanced emphasis on being more productive like a ‘machine’ are all indicators of the impoverished world that we live in.
Look around yourself and what I am saying will become abundantly clear to you- there are fewer Teller counters in the bank becomes people have been replaced by machines, metro stations have vending machines but nobody to handover a ticket to you,post offices and government desks are full of pending work because the work that was earlier expected of four people is now being handled by only one, look at the salaries and the schedules of the top media and management bosses who get paid extensively but work like slaves twenty hours a day. People are being sacked and technology is being used to cut down on man-power. Does the use of such alienated technocracy suit the needs of Indian society?
We are such a heavily populated country and one where people are dying to find some source of employment, is it ethical to cut down employment and replace people within machines even in this context? Imagine, we had a very small population and therefore many sectors that wanted manpower but had none- in such a case technology would become a boon because it would facilitate the functioning of vital institutions.
However if you look at the situation in India you would realise that technologization can be glamorous, economic and more efficient when compared to keeping human employees but certainly it can’t be ethical. Reports from across the world are telling us that unprecedented automation is dangerous. A new report has found out that by 2030, as many as 800 million jobs will be lost due to automation.
Some of the jobs that will be lost due to automation will be-
Data entry jobs
Library based jobs
Cargo Packers and Movers
The report suggests that increased automation will also create new jobs for select professionals and redefine some old ones. One of the greatest challenges that this will bring is to balance the transition in such a way that it does not encourage massive unemployment and poverty for a large section of the world’s population. The income inequality throughout the world will grow several times and will also bring about large scale political instability.
While the proposal that technology will completely replace people in most occupations throughout the world may be slightly exaggerated what cannot be denied is the fact that more than one third of the activities that humans do in the word will be automated totally. The report tells us that the effects of automation will differ from country to country. This implies that developed countries like the United States and Germany will be the most hit by the coming change as higher average wages incentivizes automation. In America it is assumed that employment of people in the healthcare sector will increase as it will have to deal with an ageing population while rote jobs that require physical activity or data processing will be risked by automation. In the developed economies such as the U.S. the automation will lead to increased economic inequalities. While the high paying and creative jobs will be at the top, the demand for low skill employment will also decline.
The logic of ruthless technocracy should never be allowed to cloud the vision of an inclusive society where everybody has a source of livelihood.
The World Bank’s 2016 World Development Reported stated that there is a global trend for ‘hollowing out’ of jobs. This means that across the world people are losing their jobs to machines or to robots. Technology is streamlining routine tasks and middle-skill works like the tasks of a clerk. In developing countries like India this is a massive crisis because there is already large scale unemployment. The middle skill requiring professions have been sought as the ways out of poverty for a great section of the Indian population. The extinction of low qualification and low-skill requiring jobs can result in further differentiation and economic inequality in Indian society. While entrepreneurs, industrialist and corporate leader across the world argue that to keep up with the world standard and compete at the global scale, India will have no option but to opt for technocracy but what must also be articulated is the fact that if India cannot strike a balance between growth and sustainable and inclusive growth then it is bound to fail as a nation. How can we be competent on a global platform when half of our population goes to bed on a hungry tummy? The logic of ruthless technocracy should never be allowed to cloud the vision of an inclusive society where everybody has a source of livelihood.
Moreover how can we deny the fact that our economic situation and demographic realities are different from the west, the similar logic of technology replacing people when adopted blindly will only bring misery? We have to be accountable to the 31 million unemployed people in India before we allow machines to take away more of our jobs.