A World Bank research report claims that technology can fundamentally disrupt the traditional economy of developing nations. In its startling report, it has claimed that automation can threaten to eliminate 69% jobs in India and 77% in China. Such claims have become a reason for skepticism against the disruptive artificial intelligence development that has started haunting policymakers and workers alike.
A BBC report in May 2017 highlighted why automation could be a threat to India’s growth. Layoffs in IT industries, one of the most consistent employment generators in India have become a matter of heated debate. Protectionism is on the rise in western countries leading to market volatility. Nations that spearheaded hyper-globalization, engulfing the world in somewhat unprepared neo-liberalism are now shying away from free trade agreements. The World Trade Organization has started losing relevance in this uproar of anti-globalization.
Cognizant wants to optimize its services through automation. Infosys, another IT bellwether has shifted around 9000 low-skilled employees to more advanced projects owing to automation. Another competitor Wipro has also engaged into such redeployments. NASSCOM’s annual review has another set of dire prognostications claiming that 20-25% jobs can be reduced in the IT industry.
New machines, increased sophistication, changing global demand, and the introduction of robotics have become the tipping point. Data Science and Big data require less human cognizance. Technological unemployment can be potentially catastrophic for Indian engineers, in an environment where the country is facing jobless growth. It poses a threat to the demographic dividend; Prime Minister Narendra Modi has boasted about.
World Bank’s World Development Report 2016 talks about the global trend of hollowing out the labor force. Routine tasks and clerical works can easily be replaced. The US based HfS Research has reported that 6.4 lakh low-skilled position jobs can be lost to automation by 2021.
An online professional training company Simplilearn has also emulated a report named “How Automation is Changing Work Choices: The Future of IT Jobs in India”. It specifically mentions how Internet of Things, Big Data, Cloud Computing etc. are domains of future.
Major areas where the threat of replacement is imminent are Manual Testing, infrastructure management, BPO, and System maintenance. The first Chief Data Scientist to the US Government had advised young professionals to train themselves in new technologies of artificial intelligence, cyber security and health care to avoid any potential fallout of layoffs in future.
Legendary futurists like Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking have emphatically registered their apprehensions regarding artificial intelligence to be disruptive and dangerous. We are standing at the cusp of the Fourth Industrial Revolution that can bring a paradigm shift in the way we work and survive.
New avenues of job creation have to be discovered. Advancements in robotics and technology cannot be put to halt or deranged; rather alternatives have to be planned. Collaboration and critical thinking need to be employed for future proofing of jobs from robots. The young population needs to be adaptive and future-oriented because resistance would be a retrograde step, self-destructive in nature.
Article by Mausam.