Nothing holds technology back.
Regulations and lobby might push back the adoption of new technologies for a period, but never too long. They always find their way to scale into economies, and the reason is simple - in the almost totality of the cases, they bring more benefits than harm in the long run. Considering we adhere to a moral agenda on adopting them, of course. We do want companies, regulators, lobbyists, and governments to act responsibly on the deployment of new technologies with high potential to displace workers and eliminate jobs. As we have discussed before, 47% of Americans jobs are at risk in the next decade or two, including yours. We are running out of time to find scalable solutions.
Our purpose at collectivebrains.org is to better understand the impact of new technologies on the future of work and education and find viable solutions to make people productive post 4th industrial revolution. We are inviting everyone to join this discussion and collectively find solutions. We are in times of businesses disruption at scale, impacted by the new wave of technologies, and we cannot rely solely on governments to find answers to the massive displacement of jobs we will see in the coming years.
One of the main challenges in this wave of new techies is the speed of deployment and adoption. Today the capabilities to deploy new technologies at scale are way more developed, and companies understand better the importance of innovation to gain competitive advantage. Check this article from Christian Frei on real disruptors mindset.
A good example of development and adoption acceleration is the comparison of commercial drones and Smartphones. Smartphones technology took around seven years to mature from pilots to commercial readiness. Commercial Drones took no more than five years, an almost 30% reduction in time. It called my attention the other day when I was watching a reprise of Hunger Games with my son. The Hunger Games book first edition hardcover came out in September 2008 and the movie filmed during 2011. And even though we are within the same decade, it completely missed the picture on what drones would resemble. Do you remember that miniature of a paraglider delivering medicines and surprise, completely missing the target? That was just six years ago.
The benefits of the new commercial drone technology including computer automation and traffic control are clear and impactful. It will potentially reduce the number of trucks up and down our congested roads, especially in the major cities, reducing traffic, improving lead time on urgent deliveries (medicines for example), more convenience (get your Starbucks coffee where you are) and safer deliveries on rough areas just to name a few. A big downside to this date is the environmental impact. A study from Quora showed that if Amazon delivered everything by drones in the last mile, that would be the similar in energy spend of using 3 to 5 times more vans. And the type of fuel used is denser and more pollutant. Surprised ? That is an indication that the economies of scale will come directly from a higher efficient delivery system, meaning cutting jobs at the end. On the other hand, Amazon seems to be developing new technology to alleviate the ecological impact of their drones through a very innovative airborne warehouse. A floating warehouse where drones would use less energy on their way down to deliveries when loaded.
The Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International forecast the creation of 100,000 jobs and $82billion in economic impact (drones are one type of unmanned vehicle). Thus the potential upside is already articulated. The questions we need to raise though, are about the impact of those technologies on the workplace. Specifically, the number of jobs to be eliminated in the transportation industry and what will be done to prepare and capacitate those workers to be productive again. The United States Department of Labor projects that the Transportation and Warehouse sector of the economy will grow 0.3% to approximate 4.8 million jobs in 2024 when compared to 2014, accounting for almost 3% of all American jobs. Its projection apparently includes the 100k additional jobs, but there is no deeper understanding or a plan for jobs eliminated in the following years. When we sum up all the jobs potentially eliminated by automation, robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence that will go over half of American jobs existing today, enough to create economic disarray.
Innovation is good when we are ethical and responsible on deploying it.
We have been discussing the impact of new technologies on the future of work and the future of education, and working collectively to find solutions and innovative thinking we can invest on to create a better tomorrow. Join us at collectivebrains.org.