The year is 1999. For the sake of creativity, aerial coverage is needed in the making of a film. The crew and the cast are all set. The cameraman, ready with his tools, boards the helicopter and signals the pilot when ready. Upon signaling, the pilot takes off and they carefully hover around the scene to capture the needed shots. The captured videos then have to be reviewed and corrections made if necessary. It must have been tough for the people of old.
Fast-forward to 2019. A teenage boy with a YouTube channel needs to make some videos to entertain his subscribers. He needs to make the videos more interesting. So, he opts for an aerial view. He does not, in any way, need the services of a professional cameraman nor does he need a pilot. With his high-resolution camera (mobile phone) tucked in a drone he has everything he needs to make a high-quality panoramic video. Furthermore, it isn’t so much of a hustle repeating the whole process over and over again till he finds the perfect shots. There is no helicopter fuel wasted, and there is no life endangered by hanging at the doors of a moving plane.
Isn’t it amazing the difference that time can make? The contrast between the above scenarios has simply been brought about by the changes that have been taking place in the world over time. Such changes rendered a pilot’s services unnecessary in the capturing of aerial shots yet opened doors for companies that manufacture drones used for the very purpose. Such changes have made it possible for a non-professional to take the duties of a professional cameraman and still make something out of it. It can be both scary and fascinating to note that no one knows the end to such changes. Scary in the sense that traditional work, workforce, and the workplace have to be modified or even, at times, rendered redundant to accommodate the changes. On the other hand, it would be fascinating to explore the new possibilities and opportunities that come with the changes.
No one is immune to change. The older generation wasn’t and neither is the current generation. The advantage that the current generation has is the vastness of knowledge at its disposal. We can learn from history –recent and past- and use the insight we gain to help us in handling the changes as they come. We can predict the fate of the future from the past. This article aims at analyzing how the future might be for work.
As stated already, the effect of technological advancement and demographic change has been felt in the past where it led to better productivity and job creation and concurrently led to the displacements of certain jobs. Therefore, it is prudent and critical to anticipate and prepare for the current transition. This transition will definitely come and it will certainly affect the three deeply connected dimensions of any organization: the work, the workforce, and the workplace. In anticipating this change, we must understand some of the factors that are likely to shape the future of work. Of all the factors, it is without a doubt that the effect of increased automation of tasks by machines is the most significant. Therefore, we will be looking at the effect that increased task automation by machines is expected to have on work.
The effect of increased automation of tasks by machines on the future of work.
With the ever-increasing advancement of technology, there is a growing interest in the fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and augmentation. Such technology has shown some success in automating tasks in the workplace. It is an incredible feat in the world of technology that machines can now learn and do tasks meant for human beings. However, it has its own implications as far as work is concerned.
Automation of work tasks by machines is meant to make work easier and increase productivity and efficiency as machines can be more accurate than human beings in their tasks and lack human limitations such as tiring or stressing about things unrelated to the job. Machines will also never ask for a pay rise. Just maintenance. Consequentially, most companies and organizations are most likely to embrace this technological revolution. This will effectively see many people lose their jobs to machines. Nonetheless, it will create opportunities for the companies that make such machines and the personnel required to program and run such machines. I guess it’s true what they say: science solves one problem and creates another.
Therefore, increased task automation is bound to modify a lot of things concerning work. Thanks to this technology, workers will be expected to spend more time doing activities that machines are unable to do such as people management, application of expertise, and effective communication. As a result, the qualifications and skill set required in the workplace by most organizations will differ from the current requirements. Workers will either be required to know how to handle the machines, or how to handle people. Organizations will look for workers with social and emotional skills and more advanced cognitive capabilities.
Other than AI and the automation by machines, technology has, with time, redefined employment. With the increasing use of the internet, it is becoming easier for people to work online. Internet connections have led to an increase in the number of self-employed people and have made it easier for people to work without the barrier of time and distance. This is the future of employment. This model, unlike the traditional model, offers a lot of flexibility to the employee enabling a good work-life balance. In the future, most people will embrace this new model of employment.
We are undoubtedly living in very interesting times where technology is shaping almost every sphere of life. The changes that accompany such technological innovations promise a brighter future for a world where humans work less but get better results. However, the patterns of consumption, production, and employment created by this transition have implications that require pre-emptive preparations. This calls for us to be ready for this wave of changes when it finally comes.