A fear of change gets you nowhere, according to MDM President Ian Heller in Will Automation Replace Sales Reps and Truck Drivers? While new technologies could eventually displace many workers, Heller claims running the other way is not the answer.
"If we fail to keep up with foreign competitors, we will lose those industries and jobs anyway: other nations will implement the technologies we spurn."
Fear of automation is not new. Heller cites a column from a February 11, 1917 issue of the New York Times. The writer notes a British study concerning their post-war labor surplus that recommended “opposing the use of automatic machinery” to create more jobs.
"A hundred years ago, people were concerned about how technology impacts jobs while acknowledging that automation drives international competitiveness," said Heller. "They debated the benefits and threats of 'labor-saving devices' just as we argue over the effects of artificial intelligence and robots on today’s job market."
One company who doesn't shy away from automation is Amazon.
Heller noted that, of the nearly-13,000 job openings at Amazon, 58 percent were in tech-related fields. Only 230 of them were warehouse positions.
"If you compete with Amazon or believe you will in the future, your investments in people should be changing," said Heller. "If you want to remain competitive, you must adopt new technologies. Opponents may be able to slow down advances in automation, but ultimately, they’re inevitable. Training the workforce for new skills makes a lot more sense than trying to hold back the future."
Read more insights into the future of automation in Will Automation Replace Sales Reps and Truck Drivers?