There are fewer things more idiotic than claiming advances in technology will cause unemployment. But, alas, many people are stupid enough to parrot that talking point of the economic ignorance:
In the industrial revolution — and revolutions since — there was an invigoration of jobs. For instance, assembly lines for cars led to a vast infrastructure that could support mass production giving rise to everything from car dealers to road building and utility expansion into new suburban areas.
But the digital revolution is not following the same path, said Daryl Plummer, a Gartner analyst at the research firm’s Symposium ITxpo here. “What we’re seeing is a decline in the overall number of people required to do a job,” he said.
Plummer points to a company like Kodak, which once employed 130,000, versus Instagram’s 13. Gartner sees social unrest movements, similar to Occupy Wall Street, emerging again by 2014.
Through the miracle of technological advancement we now require fewer people to do most jobs. Many stages of automobile manufacturing are performed by robots. Infinite copies of documents can no be created with the click of a mouse. Letters can be transmitted instantly from one computer to the next. Auto workers, print shop employees, and postal workers are losing their jobs!
I’m sorry, I forgot to mention the number of people not employed as web developers, chip designers, chip manufacturers, infrastructure designers, infrastructure builders, flash memory designers, flash memory manufacturers, network designers, online marketers, database administrators, database programmers, system administrators, cloud infrastructure designers, cloud infrastructure implementers, data center constructors, etc., etc.
Technological advancements don’t eliminate jobs, they shift the playing field. Some skills become unnecessary while others become necessary. Sure, the invention of the light bulb put many candle makers out of work but it also created a need for light bulb manufacturers, electrical infrastructure builders, and a whole slew of other skills. Did I mention that the invention of the light bulb is what allowed our society to effectively remain active after the sun went down? As a resident of Minnesota I greatly appreciate that during the winter months when there isn’t enough sunlight to get anything of importance done.
Any one of us may be rendered irrelevant by technological advances. That doesn’t mean we’re no longer employable, it means we need to learn new skills. Just because you’re too lazy to learn a new skill doesn’t mean the entire species should be held back. If you’re bitching about technology taking your job then it’s time for you to get off of your lazy ass and learn something new. The rest of us aren’t going to stop improving peoples’ lives just because you’re too lazy to pick up a new skill. And, who knows, some day we may reach a point where everything is automated, and therefore super cheap. If that happens we can all enjoy a carefree life where we are free to follow whatever pursuits we want. Wouldn’t it be terrible if nobody had to work because everything we need became so cheap to manufacture that it could be given away for free?