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Technology has created more jobs than it has destroyed

Posted on 21/08/2015 by

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There has always been a stigma around technology that one day all our jobs will be obsolete to make way for cheap robot labour (something we just can not compete with as humans).  You will  however be relieved to hear a study by the company Deloitte states that technology has created more jobs in the past century than less. The authors, Ian Stewart, Debapratim De and Alex Cole, pored over census data for England and Wales stretching way back to 1871.They found that rather than making human workers redundant, technology has simply shifted work into other areas.

 

The report does acknowledge that jobs in certain fields have declined over the rise of technology, but says that "the stock of work is not fixed" - meaning that when some professions decline, others often spring up in their place. Many people have however challenged the significance of the report as it only uses data from the UK so the data can not be compared on a global scale. A landmark report from the Oxford Martin School in 2013 found that up to 47 percent of total employment in the US is at risk from computerisation in the next three decades, with no guarantee that those jobs will be replaced. The school now has an entire programme dedicated to the potential impact of technology.

 

With technology and robots getting smarter and more agile every day, it's not yet clear which modern profession will go the way of the agricultural labourer or launderer (such trades as these are extremely outdated) in the decades to come? The Economist ran a big profile naming over a dozen jobs sure to be taken over by robots in the next 20 years, including telemarketers, accountants and retail workers. Are we mentally prepared for this outcome? I’ll leave you with a quote from Bill gates ;

 

"Software substitution, whether it's for drivers or waiters or nurses … it's progressing. ...  Technology over time will reduce demand for jobs, particularly at the lower end of skill set. ...  20 years from now, labor demand for lots of skill sets will be substantially lower. I don’t think people have that in their mental model."