Monday, April 8, 2019

Technology and unemployment: the two sides of the same coin

With the continued growth of science and technology in the world, the modern era has seen some of the greatest changes that had never been recorded in human history. The advent of advanced technology in every field of work has transformed the world we live in, making our lives easier than ever. Today, our homes and offices are filled with electrical appliances and sophisticated equipment that enable us to carry out our daily tasks without having to drip even a single drop of sweat. Be it in the field of agriculture, education, health, manufacturing industries, transport, tele-communication or entertainment businesses, the technological advancement has given a new dimension to our lives, shaping our society as per the needs of the moving time. It is the evolution of modern science that has helped us close our door to the primitive society of the past and embark on a new journey into the modern world. But the greatest danger of living in such a sophisticated era is that if we can’t keep pace with the technological advancement of the day, we can be left behind and pushed aside from the rest of the population. The advanced technology has created job opportunities for millions of skilled workers in the world, but at the same time, it has also forced so many unskilled workers out of their jobs.

In Bhutan too, we can clearly see how technology has snatched away so many jobs over the years. The computers have now completely replaced typists and stenographers that used to be one of the most popular professions in 1980s and 1990s, and today, the internet technology is trying to take over the jobs of messengers and postmen with most of the official correspondences being carried out electronically. The introduction of modern tele-communication technologies such as telephones and mobile phones has made the wireless radio communication a thing of the past, forcing its operators out of their jobs. Even in transport, the evolution of technologically advanced automobiles is now making it possible for drivers to do their jobs without their assistants. Until 1990s, the handi-boys were an integral part of the crew on passenger buses and trucks, but today, we hardly see them on board when we travel because the technology is doing their jobs.

Coming to the music industry, there was a time when all the musicians had the opportunity to earn a decent living. During a musical show or recording, there used to be at least 5 to 7 artists in a team, playing on different instruments. But with the advent of professional music software and audio-visual technologies, most of them have now vanished from the industry. Today, even an amateur musician can compose a professional piece of music just at the clicks of a mouse, and the singers can put up a perfect live show just by singing along the karaoke tracks, without requiring the actual musicians on the stage.

While the technology has enhanced productivity, efficiency and effectiveness at homes, offices and commercial industries, it has also come at a cost for unskilled workers who have no competency to move with time. But Bhutan is not the only nation that should be worried. There is a growing concern worldwide that the deployment of computers and robots in the workplace might soon destroy millions of job opportunities for human workers. In the United States, the truckers are already worried that the introduction of self-driven vehicles might throw them out of their profession. Whatever said and done, it seems that the only way to survive in this age of science and technology is to move with it. Otherwise, we too might lose our jobs someday.

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