History

Will Humans Be Obsolete After The New Industrial Revolution?

The world has undergone three industrial revolutions that have dramatically impacted our lives. What will happen after the new revolution?

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The global economy is evolving at rate faster than ever before and some are calling it the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Here's how historians tend to categorize the previous revolutions: First, humans harnessed the power of steam to expedite production; then came the breakthrough of electricity in mass production; third, advanced electronics paved the way for automated production. Throughout this, workers have stood between the manufacturing production process and the consumer. That may be starting to change, though. Technology is bridging the gap, circumventing these middle men and allowing companies to reach consumers directly. Just look at what happened to Blockbuster, travel agencies, and local bookstores.

This high tech automation is particularly bad for low-paid, minimally-skilled workers. The World Economic Forum has predicted that, by 2020, over 7 million jobs will disappear, many of them white collar and administrative positions. That same report also forecast job growth in certain fields: engineering, architecture, computing, and mathematics. It's also predicted that women will be substantially more affected by this shift in the labor market. According to the World Economic Forum's research, men currently outnumber women in STEM fields. The group predicts that women will lose 20 jobs for every one new job gained. Men, on the other hand, stand to lose four jobs for every one gained.

Learn More:

The Future of Jobs Employment, Skills and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (weforum.org)
"Today, we are on the cusp of a Fourth Industrial Revolution."

Fourth industrial revolution set to benefit richest, UBS report says (theguardian.com)
"The richest stand to gain more from the introduction of new technology than those in poorer sections of society, according to a report which warns that policymakers may be required to intervene to tackle the widening inequality."

The Third Great Wave (economist.com)
"Most people are discomfited by radical change, and often for good reason. "