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Automation: Is it doing more harm than good?!

Technology has changed operations within the world of business for the better, improving profits and productivity.

  • Many job losses are balanced by new job creation, though this is of little consolation if you're not qualified for those new jobs.

  • Globalisation is not the main reason for job losses, automation is. Stay informed and don't vote on false information.

  • We have to prepare for the future, for example by going to university to study for technology-related courses such as computer science and information management

Advancement in technology, also known as automation, has played a big part in developing our world.

"What is Automation?" you ask. Automation is when a process - usually performed by humans - is taken over by a machine e.g. when Ford introduced machines into their factories in the 1960s to do simple jobs that people were previously doing, such as packaging, leading to manual labour jobs disappearing!

Amazon: fast deliveries, faster to replace humans

What about companies like Amazon? The use of machines means they can track the number of orders and how many items they have in a warehouse, without the need for a human to keep track of such things manually.

Alibaba, a huge Chinese tech company, uses machines to do 70% of the work in their warehouses! These little robots can carry 500 KG worth of stuff, and a 5-minute battery charge can last for 4 hours.

But wait, there's good news!

What studies have found is that when jobs are lost to automation, new jobs are often created.

For example, when machines replaced car factory workers, companies usually produced more cars, which led to more car dealerships and so new jobs were created to sell the cars built. And so the difference in the number of jobs lost and jobs created is not as big as most people think.

There's a catch though...

The problem is that when you create new jobs, they usually require a different skill set. A factory worker who worked in packaging, may not be qualified for a career in sales or IT support. They'll need training and experience, which costs companies money.

There's still more to it.

Automation has its pros and cons, but its overall impact can be seen as positive.

  • Mass food production due to automation has helped feed millions of people worldwide.

  • Improvement in medicine due to technology has helped doctors cure many more people.

  • Public services, like our buses, run so smoothly (some of the time..) due to automation.

However, the sad truth is that advancement in technology has benefited the rich the most and left many others behind.


What can we make of all this?

Awareness of what’s happening in today’s business world and our politics is important! Many people have blamed the loss of jobs on globalisation and mass immigration.

‘Blame the immigrants!’ you often hear.

The rise of Donald Trump and the U.K's shock vote to exit the EU is in some small part due to the opinion of people claiming that globalisation is the leading cause of job losses. But in fact, most job losses are due to automation and the advancement of technology.

This is very important to understand; our business and political worlds are not separate. Technology in business has impacted our politics.

We must be aware of this, so we don't make important decisions, such as voting, on the back of wrong information.

In the next part of the series, we’ll look more into how technology will impact our future, and more importantly, our money and pockets.

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