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It’s the stuff that science fiction content is built of – not to mention workmen’s nightmares; viz. losing your job to robots and other forms of automation.  As technology improves and slowly “overtakes mankind,” so to speak, the risk of losing one’s livelihood to machines seems to loom increasingly larger with time.  Question: how much of it is true and how much is paranoia?


At the outset, prophet of doom, Stephen Hawking has warned that artificial intelligence and increasing automation is going to decimate middle class jobs, worsening inequality and risking significant political upheaval.  In a column in the guardian, the world-famous physicist writes that the automation of factories has already decimated jobs in traditional manufacturing, and the rise of artificial intelligence is likely to extend this job destruction deep into the middle classes, with only the most caring, creative or supervisory roles remaining.


The change has started, with companies introducing bots for customer service, managing warehouses etc.  As the world gets more competitive, as manufacturing gets more competitive, it will use more automation, robotics, technology.  Huge numbers of services jobs in these sectors will be made redundant as a few lines of code will be able to perform the same tasks efficiently and effectively.


However, IT veteran Mohandas Pai says concerns over job cuts stemming from automation are exaggerated.  The cost of initial automation and robotics is high. In a country where wages are much lower, impact will be felt slower.  More than job cuts, new job creation is a big concern for India. Jobs will be generated at a slower pace than the economy’s growth rate. Overall, India will not see job losses, as much as a slower growth of jobs, compared to GDP.  Strengthening “the mid-market segment to create more jobs and re-skilling the workforce to take up new emerging jobs, is vital.


Quotes Quora:  If one is worried that automation will take away one’s job, one is not being paranoid, but it is not as bad as it seems. When industrial revolution happened a couple of centuries back, people were worried the same way. That was the biggest jolt in history to jobs, but people adapted and very quickly they learned new skills and got back to work. Probably the blacksmith wasn’t forging metal any more, but his knowledge of it helped him to run machines.


Vaibhav Gupta further gives the primary reason for adopting automation:  Automation is done to relive the QA team of repetitive testing. Like testing an application flow with different test data/input can be made easy using automation.  Executing the same script over and over again every day.  Doing tedious tasks which would take up a lot of man-power.  Now, evaluating why these can’t be achieved using more man-power, human resources are expensive.  Hence, even in India, automation would be embraced at any point of time. There are high chances that it will give rise to a skilled workforce.


Techinasia.com reads: The “fourth industrial revolution” is making a case for replacing humans with more efficient algorithms and automation at the workplace.  The future is here and it’s uncertain. It’s more disturbing when you think about what machines can take away.  A blend of AI and big data analytics can help computers “learn” how to create and curate content that’s tailored for thousands of customers – something a marketer can never do.


For instance, ICICI Bank has made a move to automate 20 percent of transactions by March next year and Raymond, an Indian fashion retailer, is set to replace 10,000 human workers with robots in the next three years.

However, all is not lost. History shows us that advances in tech don’t decrease jobs over an extended period. As the workforce adjusts their skills and entrepreneurs explore alternatives based on new technologies, the number of jobs rise again.  Therefore, as long as the computational power grows, many jobs are going to be redefined rather than destroyed.


While automation has transformed many industries, it largely redefines rather than eliminates jobs, states Forbes.com.  At airport kiosks, there is a refocusing of skills rather than workforce reduction, allowing personnel to attend to more complicated transactions while kiosks streamline the check-in process and reduce wait time for customers.


KellyOCG India’s Padamadan believes, “automation will not take away all the jobs because you still need someone to build and monitor robots. So, while jobs mostly at the bottom of the pyramid will be affected, new jobs will get added”.

Finally, common sense dictates that social skills are the best hope of beating robots at the end of the day. There are just some things that humans can do, which robots cannot, which go beyond technology and involve cognitive emotion and feelings, and that’s where humans will “win the final battle” against bots and such like!

  ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..       References:   http://www.livemint.com/Industry/lElBJJHqEZBBKkQyL6ycyJ/Automation-impact-By-2021-one-in-four-job-cuts-may-be-from.html     https://www.quora.com/How-will-automation-affect-jobs-in-India-What-will-happen-to-the-economic-system-when-the-price-of-automation-goes-down-below-the-prevailing-labor-wage-rate       https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeshumanresourcescouncil/2017/05/02/the-impact-of-automation-on-the-independent-workforce/#684307f175c5       https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/12/stephen-hawking-this-will-be-the-impact-of-automation-and-ai-on-jobs       http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/jobs/by-2021-four-out-of-10-jobs-would-be-lost-to-automation-experts/articleshow/57836659.cms       https://qz.com/904285/the-optimists-guide-to-the-robot-apocalypse/