Vocations and Technological Advances
As the application and growth of technology in society and business continue to grow, individuals and companies are beginning to see some of the major effects that it is having on businesses and workplace flow. Some jobs that have historically employed large numbers of workers to complete processes are now being overtaken by robotic processes and other technology. However, there are just as many increases in positions in new sectors for all the ones that are being overthrown by technology. Below you will find a breakdown of the effects that technology has on society and previously human-held positions, in addition to the uprising of new jobs in technology.
Effects of Technology on Society, Commerce, and Jobs
According to Lyria Bennett Moses and Greg Adamson of IEEE Future Directions, the ways in which technology affect business and society are all dependent on how it is used. For businesses, technology can help increase workplace efficiency, and in turn, save a company money in the long run. Devra Gartenstein, a writer for Bizfluent of Leaf Group Media, many businesses are resorting to digital organization systems for files and customer data, making it easier to find, access, and store information. This process saves time, speeding up workflow, and also allows more energy to be focused on the actual work of the business. Gartenstein also states that other businesses, especially manufacturing companies, have started using technology to complete jobs that otherwise would have been done by human hands and taken unnecessarily long hours to complete. The use of email and online social networks for business have also seen a huge rise in commerce, as staff are able to communicate with co-workers easily and more efficiently. Many businesses have implented technology into their workplace so heavily, that it would be nearly impossible for them to operate efficiently, or even at all, without it.
While there are some major positive effects that technology has had on society and commerce, Gartenstein also states that there are many who feel as though technology takes away the personal aspect of business, and can make people feel as though they are more informed on topics than they truly are. In addition, technology in the workplace often requires constant updates and maintenance, which can sometimes cost more time and money than having a person manually complete a job. On an economic level, Ian Bremmer of TIME Magazine explains that the implications of technology are often difficult to grasp by policymakers, which is costing the world around $445 billion every year, or 1% of total global income, by attempting to combat cybercrime that was not covered by laws. Bremmer also explains how the growth in technological knowledge has led to a major increase in the threat for modern technological warfare. For example, ten years ago, the United States had only 50 drones in their stockpile, but they now have over 7,000. It is also expected that China will have around 42,000 by 2023, greatly increasing the threat for war.
The argument for the benefits, or lack thereof, of technology in society can go either way. As Gartenstein stated, technology is only capable of what it is programmed to handle, which of course, means that if there is someone to program or build technology to complete a task, then humans can complete the same task, too. Moses and Adamson from IEEE make it clear that technology can have great and positive effects on the productivity of society, if used correctly. It is important that, as the use of technology grows in society and business, the purpose and effects of it are evaluated and understood before use and integration into workplace settings.
Effects of Technology on Previously Stable Jobs
The use of technology across different business settings has had mixed effects on certain industries. While technology has, according to Gartenstein, reduced the need for certain jobs to be completed by humans, it has also made positions held by people to become more efficient and accessible to others. According to Shewan, around two-thirds of Americans believe that within the next 50 years, robots will be doing most human jobs. At the same time, however, 80% of these individuals still believe that their jobs will still exist and be done by humans.
REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY
In an article written by Adam Fridman, founder of Mabbly and writer for Inc.com, information regarding the status of the real estate market in any given area is readily available online to anyone with access to the internet. This is helping potential buyers and renters to understand their options, and also aiding brokers and businesses to contemplate how to move around and manipulate the market. In the past, contracts, leases, and other important documents that are used in the real estate industry were always completed by hand. However, with the increase of technology and online systems, such information is now being handled through email, being signed and filled out online, and being stored in digital formats. Fridman also states that, for current renters, online management portals are also becoming more widely used by real estate companies to handle complaints, maintenance requests, and even paying the monthly rent. According to Mike Rothman, chairman and CEO of SMS Assist, the use of technology is aiding property management firms by giving immediate power to the owners and managers, helping them to make smarter business decisions.
As technology enters the financial industry, Fridman explains how companies are finding that understanding the competitive landscape of the financial market is not enough to help make deals between investors and businesses. Since banking customers are beginning to complete most of their transactions online, major in-person banks are being forced to compete with FinTech and new online banking financial businesses, in addition to understanding the clientele market. The availability of financial tools to customers is creating a large competitive market for financial institutions today.
HEALTH CARE INDUSTRY
According to Bremmer, the health care industry is one that many consider to be the least susceptible to changes due to technology. Fridman breaks this apart, explaining how technology in the health care industry is not taking away jobs, but rather is making the job more efficient. By using electronic patient files than that can be immediately shared among practices, and using technology to monitor patients and study medicine, the health care industry is producing better information regarding medical solutions, as well as helping nurses and doctors to be more efficient in producing a quality health care experience for patients.
Manufacturing has, perhaps, taken the largest blow due to technology growth in society and commerce. Gartenstein explains that a greater use of technology in the manufacturing industry permits greater speed and efficiency in tasks that used to be done by hand. Devin Wenig, president and CEO of eBay Inc., further explains the effects of technological processes that focus on producing information and products for customers in quick response times. Such processes are eliminating the need for inventory stores, in addition to the entire process of seeking out potential customers for any given product. Dan Shewan of The Guardian explains how 56% of workers in Cambodia, Indonesia, and three other nearby countries are at risk of losing their jobs in the manufacturing industry due to robots. Brian Heater from Tech Crunch further explains how, between the years of 1994 and 2000, manufacturing jobs were increasing substantially. However, between 2000 and 2010, around five million individuals lost their jobs due to technology in manufacturing.
Shewan provides another example of technology in the construction industry that has had a major effect on potential jobs for humans. He explains how Australian company Fastbrick Robots built a robot that can lay 1,000 bricks down in an hour. This job would take a person at least a day to complete, which is posing major threats to jobs for construction workers. Another example provided by Heater was the fact that, in 1950, there were around 97,000 positions for elevator operators, but now there are close to zero individuals holding this position in the United States today.
Clair Cain Miller from The New York Times also wrote about how, between 1962 and 2005, around 75% of the total workforce in the steel industry lost their jobs, and 13% of the U.S. manufacturing workforce lost their jobs due to automated technology. Author Katie Allen who also writes for The Guardian explained that, in England and Wales, between 1871 and today, a decrease of 95% was seen in the agricultural workforce as technology increased, and between 1901 and 2011, even with an increase in population, the number of individuals working in positions that washed clothes decreased by 571%. Between 1992 and 2014, Cain Miller also explains that there has been a 79% drop in positions as weavers, a 57% loss in jobs as typists, and a 50% decrease in positions as secretaries, all of which have been due to production of robotics or automated processes.
NEW JOBS FROM TECHNOLOGY
Although there is plenty of factual information explaining how technology has decreased the need for human positions, there are also many new jobs opening up because of technology. For example, Shewan states that by 2019, around 30% of companies will have a Chief Robotics Officer, and governments around the world will have people working on producing laws and guidelines pertaining to technology safety and privacy in the workplace. Shewan is also expecting jobs in robotics to increase by 60% by 2020, but around one-third of jobs in this sector are likely to remain unfilled due to lack of skilled workers.
Studies cited by Allen between 1992 and 2014 show that there has been a 909% rise in nursing and assistant positions, a 580% increase in teaching and education, 183% increase in welfare and community jobs, and a 168% increase in home careers. These jobs are not being overtaken by technology, but rather are being made more efficient through technology, and thus major increases are being seen. Bremmer cited a study from 2013 by Oxford University that stated that, in the next 10-20 years, it is expected that around 47% of jobs in the U.S. will become computerized, and 65% of children in elementary school will be working in jobs that do not even exist yet.
With the increase of technology in society and commerce, there are many industries that are seeing a loss of human positions as technology makes the job more efficient and even saves companies money. However, with the increase of technology in the workplace also comes the increase of jobs related to the production and maintenance of such automation. It is likely that jobs that require compassion or personal care will not be overtaken with technology, at least not anytime in the near future. However, technology will likely be used to make such positions more efficient and cost-effective.