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Today we have self-driving cars, self-automated military equipment, robots performing surgery and doing other chores. The internet has opened up the world of information and online education is doing away with the need of traditional classrooms and teachers. The question is whether this advancement will make life easier and simpler for humans or will it make puppets of the human race.
Communication power at the tip of their fingers
Smart machines are developing and becoming more efficient at mind-boggling speeds. It is estimates that more than 1.1 billion people in the world own smartphones and tablets. They have communication power at the tip of their fingers, round the clock. With the progress in technology, many jobs are already out of the window – travel agents, clerks, small time retailers; very soon teachers, researchers, writers will become redundant too. So are we creating or destroying?
Academicians, in particular, two of them at MIT’s Sloan Business School, Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, predict that the world is in for a tough time – that advancing technology destroys jobs more than it creates and that it also increases income and skill disparities within society. In the world market today, innovators, investors, consumers gain at the expense of workers and labor. So wages stagnate and unemployment goes up.
Technology frees us from the mundane
But another point of view (based on a study by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI)), says something different. They say that technology frees us from the mundane, routine work and allows us the liberty to do work that involves higher levels of thought. Computers work faster than humans in sifting through enormous piles of data, they monitor news feed, they take on labor intensive jobs and jobs that are tedious and repetitive
But it is predicted that technological progress will increase many times over with a merging of machine learning, voice recognition and nanotechnology. Machines or tiny computers will gradually take over from humans even in areas like surgery, planning, innovating and consulting. But it is felt that this will be more positive than negative.
Easy access to what they want to buy
Consumers will have easy access to what they want to buy – products or services. The internet and smartphone reduces distances and allows trans-border collaboration, it cuts out travel time, effort and money, companies will have access to big data and enormous processing power and storage, innovators can test prototypes in small markets and sell to niche consumers.
It is not to be expected that this change will be smooth and painless- there will be fallouts. As mentioned earlier there will be increasing social and income inequalities but if it is handled sensitively we can harness new technology for society’s benefit. This can be done by preparing people to use technology productively, by changing from a brick-and-mortar education system to one where we learn on a mass scale from the internet and use teachers as personal mentors, where companies work to enlarge consumer base rather than work against one another to win over competition.