There’s one myth about the role of technology that’s so tenacious that it’s never died down and I believe it needs to be debunked. That’s why today on the Htet Tayza blog I ask; does technology kill jobs?
I can understand why people might believe that technology is a job killer. It’s designed to make our lives easier; to perform back breaking labour and mind-bending mental acrobatics so we don’t have to.
History seems to arc in favour of the myth. The most appropriate example is perhaps the industrial revolution. This is the period of time where everything changed. Spurred on by the scientific reasoning that was popularised by the enlightenment, people across Europe created a range of inventions that transformed the world forever. However there was one unintended consequence; it killed many traditional industries.
‘Are Robots Hurting Job Growth?’
A new piece on the Wall Street Journal has refuted this commonly held myth. The article talks about a segment called ‘Are Robots Hurting Job Growth’ that was featured on the American TV programme 60 Minutes two years ago. It detailed the story of the introduction of robots to a retail distribution centre near Boston, Massachusetts.
It had all the trappings of a mid-20th Century propaganda film. The segment’s use of vintage movie clips and “gotcha” reporting made it very clear that robots were taking jobs away from people who needed them. The Journal spoke to a technology writer called James Bessen and he said that it wasn’t as simple as 60 Minutes made it out to be.
He did admit that the robots had replaced some workers, but he went on to suggest that their introduction has created others. The Journal used the US banking industry to support this idea. It noted that when banks first introduced ATMs in the 70’s, many people feared that they would take jobs from bank tellers. Initially they were right; the average bank hired 20 tellers in the days before ATMs but only hired 13 once the machines were installed in financial institutions across the US. However this allowed banks to open more branches and create more jobs.Employement
Technology is a job creator
This piece has made it clear that far from being a job killer, technology is a job creator. It streamlines operations and allows businesses to expand and create new jobs in different locations, which creates social mobility. This is why I believe that society need to encourage the advancement of modern technology, not stifle it.