Top technological trends in the future labor-world
Technological development is one of the greatest drivers for disruptive changes in the labor world. New technology and inventions, original application of long-known technology, and new combinations of different and traditional elements, create new opportunities and threats to the labor world as we know it.
So, what are the current and future technological trends and advancements, that will shape the way we work?
Robots have been around for quite some time now. They revolutionized the way we produce, manufacture, repair, or execute many other work procedures. They conjured assembly lines and workshops, and turned to be imminent in our lives. Up until now, robots were not self-mobile and were limited in many ways. But autonomy is around the corner.
Advanced vehicles are becoming more and more autonomous and free of dependency on human operators. These machines are built with multiple sensory systems, motion, and calculating power, which enable them not only to perform better in many physical jobs (manufacturing, service, maintenance, etc.) but to actually threat the existence of a variety of industries. Most prominent nowadays is the transportation industry facing the rise of the autonomous car, with enterprises like TESLA and MOBILEYE. Private cars, public transportation, aircrafts, and many others, are in the center of this change. Drones are another example of how mobile robots could ignite a new revolution, when global enterprises like AMAZON, are about to redesign distribution lines and networks, with new platforms of self-controlled robots, able to do much more with much less.
Though present in the social discourse and media for a few years now, the crypto-currency trend is only on its first steps, and many of its implications on society are yet to be discovered. What is already quite understood is that crypto currency technologies have the potential to revolutionize all monetary systems. The blockchain technology is based on a concept, which allows people to transact value peer-to-peer, without a centralized, trusted third party. This means no more sending money from centralized companies, like banks, to a third party. Instead we can use this new finance network in a globally, almost instant fashion, and with a low cost. These decentralized networks, which relay on open source public projects, will create a thick global network built out of a large amount of small economic eco-systems. Parts of these eco systems are already present in the shape of crowdsourcing, sharing economic resources and peer-to-peer platforms. All these enables both companies and individuals to do things that previously required large-scale organizations.
Advanced manufacturing and 3D printing
3D printers are becoming more and more common and widespread. This signifies a great change on our doorstep. 3D printers have the potential to revolutionize almost all modern production models. Once an individual has access to a printer and product manufacturing files, he can practically produce by himself whatever he desires, even original plans, for himself. The whole value chain will be affected by this phenomenon. Just Imagine how many middlemen work today for this value chain, between the product and the consumer. Beginning with production people, through distributers, ending with retailers - all are at risk of becoming irrelevant.
AI and machine learning
We are not only building robots. We build intelligent machines and computers. We want them not only to perform tasks we teach them, but also to teach themselves. Training humans takes time and lots of resources. Machines with artificial intelligence might learn how to perform simple tasks by themselves without human operators to code them to do so. Even better, they can invent different, unique and new operations that outperform human planned operations. We can automate knowledge-worker tasks that for a long time were considered impossible for machines to do. Take for example service attendants or secretaries. Now, with advances in human voice recognition, video, and other sensory data we can have AI machines capable of understanding humans and interact with them the same way other people can.
These advancements will improve other abilities like listening and data processing, which with the right platform could replace security and policing jobs.
First services like Apple's SIRI or Amazon's Alexa are already making use of these technological features in our home surroundings. Imagine these out in the public, wherever you go.
Assembly-line and work-flow automation
Progress in nanotechnology, invention of new materials and robotics advancements in production based on soft and inconsistent materials could lead to increased automation in the manufacture of many products. We have already witnessed over the last few decades the process of robots conquering assembly lines. Moving towards full automation will enable maximum flexibility in production, leading to increased effectivity, and possibly shoving aside many employees.
The same way, automation might affect large scale work-flows. Service industry and governmental institutes are a network of bureaucratic processes, procedures and rules. The weakest link is usually the human factor. More and more organizations are transforming their routines to be automated. This might be reflected in the disappearance of some clerical positions, inspectors, controllers and more. At the same time, computers running large scale operations, might actually over perform managers and directors in large systems.
There are many more trends, which already have been around for a while. Just to mention a few - big data systems, increase in computing power, mobile internet systems, cloud technology, automatic language translation between devices, new energy supply and technology, text reading by computers, and the internet of things.
We can assume that as proven in the past, these advancements will change the way we do things. The potential of the interaction between all guarantees a great change in the foreseeable future. A major part of it will affect the labor market.