What Does The Future Look Like?

Technology has replaced jobs and caused angst amongst workers ever since the Industrial Revolution rocked the world. From the steam engine to computers people have been touched by the spread of technology. Such change brings prosperity to the world. But it can also bring trouble to people’s lives.

A different view

A different view of the world suggests technology creates more jobs than it destroys and that people bend to its vagaries and benefit from its virtues.

The standard of living and the number of jobs in the economy has increased over the last two centuries at a time when technology has triggered greatest turmoil.

But will such patterns continue and will we be able to hold our place against future technological onslaughts as they spread into the workplace and the home?

There is general agreement that millions of jobs will be lost in the next couple of decades as technology benefits and blights all types of industries, with automation and robotics growing in scale and scope and scariness.

Even though the technological argument is eerily convincing the human one is less so, as we search for a balance between what technology can do and what we want it to do.

In many cases people are happy to be served by algorithm-directed, computer-driven machines but at our core we are social animals who prefer human contact and communication.

In many areas of activity – creativity, decision-making, applying common sense to complex problems – people still perform better than computers and digital technology.

The real question

But the real question is whether or not there will be sufficient jobs in the areas where humans excel to allow everyone to work.

The likely answer, unfortunately, is that technology will develop to the point where for the first time in history there will be too many people chasing too few jobs.

We are at a tipping point driven by the effects, good and bad, of digital technology as society divides between those with work and those without.

Such division raises questions about the type of society we want and how we live and work in an economy that grows while providing less opportunity for the majority.

It highlights the need to manage in an environment where wealth and standards of living increase for the lucky few while unemployment and poverty increase for the unlucky many.

It also changes the conversation about making sure people have the right skills to take part in the economy to making sure people can live a fulfilling life without taking part in the economy.

So, we are at the start of a new era of technological turmoil that for the first time is rewriting the rules for how we live and work.