13 Jul 2018

HOW EMERGING TECHNOLOGY WILL AFFECT SOCIETY AND ECONOMY

New technologies are reshaping the way we live and work, and their effects naturally touch the creative economy—art, journalism, music, and more. The impacts are not just changing the creative economy, but society as a whole. There are four key technologies to the future of a creative economy – augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and blockchain which collectively and fundamentally disrupt how we produce and consume content and also the creative economy is a vital and growing engine of growth and employment in many countries.

The Industrial Revolution destroyed some jobs but created many more. It also increased the aggregate wealth of society and began to create a middle class who could enjoy health, education and other benefits that previously had been available only to the wealthiest. Emerging technologies can improve the speed, quality, and cost of available goods and services, they may also displace large numbers of workers but the internet has provided individuals with an unprecedented ability to do the former, even if there are concerns that ‘platform capitalism’ centralizes power among the most successful technology companies. Most people access content, whether for information or entertainment thanks to the internet and contents forms the bedrock of the creative economy, which is the system that turns ideas and creative works into profit, either for individuals, businesses or society.

Today, technological advances are rapidly making it possible to automate much of the work currently carried out by humans. This applies to both blue-collar jobs, through robotics and the Internet of Things, and white-collar work, through artificial intelligence. Automation technologies are already being felt throughout the economy. The worldwide number of industrial robots has increased rapidly over the past few years.  The falling prices of robots, which can operate all day without interruption, make them cost-competitive with human workers.  In the service sector, computer algorithms can execute stock trades in a fraction of a second, much faster than any human.  As these technologies become cheaper, more capable, and more widespread, they will find even more applications in an economy.

Experts disagree on the size of the impact that automation technologies will have on the workforce while some warn of staggering unemployment, others point out that technology may create new job categories that will employ displaced workers and the computers will have little effect on employment in the future.  Any policy measures that address the future of employment must account for the uncertainty of outcomes on employment. The benefits of technological advances are disproportionately enjoyed among the world’s communities, exaggerating the differences between those countries with stable, modern economies and those yet to develop even within a single economy; the benefits generally accrue to those who are better educated, more flexible, and less invested in the status quo.

While technology has always removed the need for some types of jobs, it also creates new ones and it is a set of tools that we use in different ways to increase efficiency. Advancements to our physical, cognitive and social capabilities have always involved a process of constant learning that we associate with effort. Technological applications increasingly improve the outreach and efficiency of government as well as civic participation in public decision making and also affects personal decision-making. For example, in experiments where results were deliberately altered, it has been shown that users base their behavior on the data provided to them and beyond their own instinctual assessment. Self-worth is inherently tied up with jobs, professions, careers and trades, although, some concerns can seem academic or blinkered from the context of a developing country looking to develop key industries and provide employment for its people.

We have a choice over how we want to use technology, over which path we take and over which scenario emerges. Perhaps the question is not a theoretical one, nor an empirical one, but one of intent and principle: the question is – what kind of society do we want to have?

 

Article by: Blessing Bassey

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