Why are we all here at Boston University? Most of us would answer, “to get a degree and hopefully get a job right after graduation.” While the job market already looks pretty dicey, we are definitely not ready for the job market situation a mere four years down the line. The World Economic Forum reported that more than five million individuals would have to forfeit their jobs to robots in 2020, due to the “Fourth Industrial Revolution.” Before we get too comfortable with the idea that robots will do all of our work for us while we laze around, this news is not exactly something we want to hear.
I remember talking about this during a lecture on the first day of classes, but I did not realize that the impact of rapidly changing technology was so widespread. When we think about technology, we usually see it as an advantage. It is, after all, digital innovation that gave us high-speed Internet, our smartphones and essentially gave our lives a greater deal of mobility. Technology, however, increased the levels of automation in the workplace and from the viewpoint of a business trying to increase its profits, it is more worthwhile to invest in efficient machinery. This change was a part of the Third Industrial Revolution, which created an environment where humans and technology (for the most part) could co-exist in harmony. The Fourth Industrial Revolution, on the other hand, brings forth a transition into a setting wherein artificial intelligence and robots are built up to replace humans altogether.
CNN reported that 65 percent of children in school today will end up working jobs that do not currently exist. How scary is that? It almost makes me wonder if my degree in economics and finance will provide me with the skillset to get a job and challenge the intelligence that the robots already possess. The only way to deal with the steep adjustments racing toward us is to prepare by re-training and modifying workplace practices to incorporate humans into a job market that is seemingly going to be overrun with robots.
My organizational behavior class taught me that we are living in a VUCA — volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous — world, and it is essential that we as individuals learn to embrace the forthcoming developments in the industry. After all, it is we humans who created this technology in the first place. It is certain that our smart minds will learn to construct a world where we will still be in control.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution, like its predecessors, is going to advance our society in a way that we cannot possibly imagine. I read about developments in technology every day, and I am in awe each time. For example, I remember reading about Uber potentially turning all of its cars driverless. This was in 2014, when Uber was just gaining steam as a means of transportation. First of all, people were already adjusting to choosing Uber over the traditional taxi, but now we have to get used to being driven around without a driver? The speed with which innovations are constructed is often shocking, and we as students trying to find our career path need to learn to be flexible and accommodating if we want to still be a part of the job market in 2020.