Can you become jobless because of automation?
Years ago, when computerization was the ‘in’ word, one of the primary concerns and worry among the trade unions was how it could lead to retrenchment of personnel and joblessness. However with time, it was found that computerization only led to improved efficiency and creation of new jobs in other sectors as well as expansion in capabilities. The very process of computer assembly, sales, maintenance, repair and support created innumerable new jobs.
Today this very same debate has emerged in a new avatar. The average salaried professional is not wrong in wondering if at some point, Artificial Intelligent machines or robots can take over their job. It is a distinct possibility in maybe a decade. According to some pundits, it is very much possible that 47% of all jobs may shift to machines within the next 20 years.
How can we blame anyone or even the machines? Complex virtual learning techniques help machines do things that no man can in terms of physical or cognitive tasks. They are efficient, tireless, accurate and relentless. They need no holidays or lunch breaks. Artificial Intelligence through machine learning, big data and greater computational power is here to stay. But behind all these, there still has to be human effort, intelligence and creativity. Or else nothing – no machine will work, no intelligence will correlate nor will any computation be meaningful.
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Machines and computer learning can improve performance beyond human levels. But if we learn from history, automation can indeed lead to unemployment for traditional businesses and industries or even skills. When industrial looms came, it put hand weavers out of job. When the cars came, horse carts became extinct. Even the computer put many traditional jobs in cold storage. However all those revolutions led to new jobs and newer industries! Similarly, new inventions come with new opportunities and benefits. It is for us to reap benefits from it.