If you know me or follow my articles you will know that for many years I have been warning about disruptive technologies, the 4th industrial revolution and the impact they will have on the world around us. Disruptive technologies and the necessity for people to enhance their skill sets and evolve to a technical/creative frame of mind and way of life is one of the very reasons I created the TechBubble blog. For many years I have watched the gap between the general public and technology increase, and this is a very dangerous situation for the world to be in.
When I speak to people about this subject, most will shrug it off and think that it does not affect them, but this is so far from the truth. Despite my love for technology, I also see the dangers that the majority of people do not see, or choose to ignore. Myself and many others around the world are trying to help people to understand the importance of having a plan for what lies ahead. It literally is a case of survival, learn new skill sets or be pushed into poverty, like it or not these are the choices the world has to face.
Just to recap on what disruptive technologies are, they are technologies that totally wipe out existing markets and replace them with new, more technologically advanced ones. For a more in depth article about what disruptive technologies are you can check out an article I wrote earlier in the year: “Disrupt or be disrupted! Technology is your best friend and your worst enemy! Why you need to learn new skill sets to avoid a possible poverty crisis”.
Since I wrote that article nothing has changed regards to the effects of disruptive technologies, other than it is almost make or break time and still people seem to be totally oblivious to the dangers that lie ahead of them.
The following section of this article will probably upset a few people, but that is not the intention. As with all of my articles the aim is to help people become more aware of what is going on around them and try to trigger them into thinking about the importance of learning new skill sets and adapting. For many the learning curve is steep, which is why it is so important to start thinking about solutions now. The impact of this revolution already is affecting nearly every person that is going to read this article including myself.
Following are just some of the main industries and job roles that have been, and will suffer greatly over the following years, relating to employment. In truth for me to start writing about every single job that is going to be endangered would lead to a very long article, in short, no one is safe. I will try to focus on the more well known industries, these are not in any particular order...
The media is the most obvious place to start. Over the last few years with the growth of online blogs, newspapers around the world have been witnessing a massive decline in sales. People no longer need to buy newspapers or even pay to subscribe to online publications or pay for advertising. Information and advertising is freely available from the millions of online blogs and the various social platforms. Just like it was with newspapers, people are learning which ones to trust and which ones not to. With the steady growth of Artificial Intelligence, newspapers will soon be a thing of the past. Already we have quite advanced A.I programs that scour the web looking for relevant information to report, modern media companies don't actually have to do anything to run a successful media outlet online, they just sit back and let the software do it, regular newspapers will soon not be able to compete with this.
With the birth of platforms such as Linkedin, the requirement to hire recruitment agencies has been rapidly declining. There is no longer a need to hire companies to find that perfect member of staff, all you need to do is visit sites like LinkedIn or the millions of others dotted around the internet to find a person that is right for your company. With the introduction of Artificial Intelligence, the right match for your job vacancy is mathematically calculated for you, and in most cases with little or no cost. As technology advances over the next couple of years this is another area that will be surplus to requirement.
Accounting software has been around for a while, but as technology is advancing the impact that it is happening is easily noticeable. There is no longer any need to hire accountants when you can pay a one off fee, or in some cases nothing, for software that does it for you more accurately than any human could. As with the above mentioned, this is one area that will soon fade away in the not too distant future.
Secretaries and Phone Operators:
Again an area that is already being replaced by software over the last couple of years, also like the above, as A.I continues to grow in strength this will be an area that is totally replaced.There will no longer be a need to hire people to handle the requirements of these job roles.
Another area that has been affected by the introduction of software is the travel industry, people can book their holidays online from many different places, there is no longer any need to go through 3rd party companies and again as A.I advances these automated systems will fully replace the need for human interaction.
Sales Staff / Customer Services/ Administration:
Software has already been eliminating the need for companies to employ staff to act as sales representatives / customer service agents and admin staff. This is yet another area that Artificial Intelligence is and will excel in. One of the unique features of Artificial Intelligence is to recognize patterns that humans can not see or identify. With the advancements in big data A.I programs know/will know everything they need to know to provide people with exactly what they need and want. You can already see this in action on many of todays top social media sites, adverts are shown on your news feeds that most of the time do actually show you adverts for things you are actually interested in. The majority of these are powered by A.I. Over the next few years this area will be another area that will be totally replaced by technology.
Already taxi services are feeling the pressure from technology, in fact many companies have shut down as they cannot compete with services like Uber. There is no longer any need for people to answer the phones to book taxis, software is fully capable of handling that task. With the introduction of A.I, robotics and self driving cars there will soon be no need for taxi drivers, in the not too distant future this area will be totally automated.
Postal Services/Delivery Services:
Email has massively reduced the need for people to need to send mail, sorting machines reduced the need to hire humans and with the introduction of drones and robotics this will be another area that will soon be fully automated by technology.
The Medical Industry:
The medical industry has been one of the core industries affected by current advancements in technology and this is not going to slow down. Doctors will be replaced by software and robots that can more accurately diagnose illnesses and prescribe medication, human error will be removed from the equation, unfortunately this industry is going to be affected massively simply due to its size.
Most education is outdated, the need for modern approaches is an absolute must, when children get into the big wide world for the first time they need to be prepared and technologically minded, something that I am sorry to say, just isn't happening in society. You only need to look at the incident involving Ahmed Mohamed who was arrested for creating a digital clock that teachers thought was a bomb to see that clearly the education system is far from up to date. The education system needs to get up to speed, how can it teach children about the real world if it doesn't even understand it? Computer science, maths, physics and technology in general are the most important subjects that will help the children of tomorrow. One of the main areas that is changing in education is more and more people are turning to online courses and MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) for further education as cheaper alternative and more freedom.
Other areas that will be affected by A.I and Robotics:
- Manual labor, disaster response and other emergency services will soon be replaced by A.I, drones and/or robotics.
- Retail assistants and fast food workers will be replaced by software, A.I and/or robotics.
- Libraries and library assistants will be replaced by online services, robotics and A.I.
So what can you do?
The list goes on and on, as I said there really isn't any job or industry that is safe from this revolution, so what can be done? Well honestly it is a bit of a vicious circle. To make businesses future proof and give them a chance of survival, they need to learn how to utilize modern technology to compete with new gen companies. The ones that don't adopt modern technology and methods will simply not be able to compete. As they begin to adopt modern methods, job positions will decrease, so what can the general public do? The general public need to learn new skill sets and start using them to create their own businesses, technological creativity and understanding is the key to survival in the connected era. Parents need to not only understand technology themselves but also to teach their children to be technologically minded and creative, additional education outside of the current education system is a must.
There will still be the need for human interaction, but it will be greatly reduced to a small number of positions. As the old industries die, new ones will be born and with that will come new skill requirements. In a world powered and run by technology, it goes without saying that being technologically minded will ease the transition. Some of the above changes will take place over the next 10-15 years say, but a lot of them will have a more immediate affect, within the next 5 years max.
The importance of learning about security:
Online and offline security is also a massive area that people need to pay attention to, for some reason people think they are immune from being hacked and do not understand even the fundamentals of using technology, including the internet, securely. Businesses seem to think it is ok to not take security into consideration when dealing with customers data. Many websites around the world do not even use SSL encryption for online stores and database connections. These types of businesses are not even taking the minimum precautions to keep your data and online identity safe. People need to understand why this is so much as of a risk and boycott these businesses. Laws need to be put in place that penalize these companies, if you want to deal with people's data you are responsible for keeping it safe, and equally, the general public is responsible for identifying these websites and staying well clear.
What tech companies can do:
One of the most important responsibilities a tech company has is to spread awareness about disruptive technologies and write articles that help people understand the benefits and dangers of them, how to use them to enhance their business/life and how to help people advance their skill sets. Another way tech companies can help is by making modern technology easily accessible. Technology is often thought of as expensive but as a community the reality is that we can offer modern, secure technology at prices that help everyone increase their chance of survival. All in all the current tech community is very consumer friendly but there are still ways that many companies can improve and take a more active role in helping people evolve and survive through this revolution.
Which ever way you look at it, and no matter how much people try to put this to one side, it does not change the fact that this is happening now. Ignoring that this is happening is only leading to higher risk of mass poverty. The 4th industrial revolution is real and we are already in the early days of the revolution. Industries and markets are going to collapse and a new way life will exist. People's skill sets need to change in order to survive, education needs to change, the way people think needs to change. If you don't start thinking about it now what will you do WHEN this happens?
Below is a video from the Summit on the Global Agenda in Abu Dhabi that was held this year and covers many of the subjects I have touched open here and in the past. I hope that people take the time to read this article and check out the video. The following years can be the best years of our lives or the worst. It is up to each person to prepare themselves and their families, so make a start now to make life easier in the not too distant future.