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Effects of Automation on Business and Employment Research Paper


Introduction

Is the future of the world going to be driven by sophisticated technology and endless job opportunities or is innovation going to create an inevitable doom? These are some of the issues that the author of this argumentative paper will address. Innovation has resulted to technologies that are increasingly making the world a happy and a comfortable place to live in.

Technology has the capability to change the way human beings associate with the world around them (Miller, 2008). The author of this paper contends that the seemingly endless use of innovation is wrought with dangers and threats to the human society.

Automation on Business and Employment

Futurists like Ray Kurweil are optimistic about the destiny of this world as far as technological innovation is concerned. But they appear not to be aware of the consequences attached to it. In his book titled Lights in the Tunnel, Ford (2009) contends that

“The world is becoming increasingly automated. Robots and computer programs will edge human workers out of their jobs (and that) unless we take a drastic step …….this will reduce mass market’s purchasing power” (p.7).

Ford (2009) is conversant with the fact that the world is indeed at a dangerous point. In his arguments, the tunnel is synonymous with purchasing power in the mass market (Ford, 2009).

Having read this book thoroughly, the author of this paper is not convinced that the title adequately addresses the automation issue. The author of this paper would like to restructure the statement for the reader.

The question is: what are the implications of automation in the current and future economy? Answering this question will help in predicting the future by tackling the current situation.

Many people agree that robots and computer software will take jobs that were initially dominated or occupied by human beings. Some individuals are already experiencing the problems as popular automation machines such as Flexpicker and Adept Quattro are now taking part in the manufacturing industry as they are given the task of sorting and shifting goods.

More human-like automation machines have taken over the industry. For example, in a few years’ time, the journalist will be replaced by these creatures as they possess the skills for virtual writing and even news’ anchoring.

The vending machines are a classic example of this scenario where the right for employment has been rendered useless (Leontief & Duchin, 2008).

Some economists contend that even though the technology is progressing and increasingly taking over most of the jobs held by humans, it creates more jobs in real sense. Any worker displaced from the manufacturing line will automatically get a place in the maintenance segment.

In addition, a couple of workers may become consultants. They even go ahead and stress that automation will never do away with jobs meant for human beings. However, whether the machines will replace humans or not will largely depend on how technology advances (Killingsworth, 2008).

The Fallacy of the Luddites

To address this issue effectively, the author will travel back in time to the industrial revolution. The textile workers of the Luddites rejected the use of looming machines contending that it was ‘greedily’ taking their daily share of bread. They protested that jobs carried out by machines will jeopardize the economy.

Of course they were not right. But the reader will contend with the author of this paper that this is not a fallacy in the modern era given that technology meant to save and ease human labor is only escalating the rate of unemployment (Killingsworth, 2008).

The author of this paper continues to argue that the fallacy will hold true if human beings are able to move at a faster pace than technology. This way, human beings will not be bullied by the greedy technology that is taking everything for itself. The fallacy that was structured during the revolution will be torn apart since the rate at which technology is advancing will overrun human capabilities.

After the automation industry has taken over a substantial share of the global market, a large swathe of human workforce will be rendered redundant. In other words, future technology is a loss of jobs in the manufacturing industry (Watanabe, International Labor Office [ILO] & World Employment Program [WEP], 2009).

Another fact as far as job automation is concerned is the many but lowly paying jobs in the industry. This is an indication that there will be just a few people able to purchase commodities. The few automated corporations will have formed a decimal generation of trillionaires with a diminished figure of consumers.

This will result to fragmented purchasing power as consumer trust will fade allowing wealth to dominate in few places. At the end of the day, the wealthy tycoons will struggle to market their commodities bringing down the economy (Watanabe et al., 2009).

Critiques

Other economic scholars have challenged those thinkers who seem to support the fact that in a short while the world will become fully automated. They contend that not all jobs will become automated (Adler, 2010).

For instance, artists, teachers, entertainers and such others will be saved as a sizeable proportion of human kind will prefer a touch of human hands in their services. They argue that in such circumstances, the economy has got nothing to worry about.

This statement cannot go unchallenged. Currently, some of the high paying jobs include that of the office secretary, cashiers, food manufactures, lawyers and so forth. The question is, if the above mentioned jobs become automated, what are those involved in them going to become?

Of course they will not change and become teachers, entertainers, or even artist. People from these automated positions will not have enough income to sustain themselves simply because not all will become artists or performers (Adler, 2010).

Critics continue to challenge the effects of automation on the business and employment sector. They are of the view that to them, automation is not a problem. Human beings can transit from production to service based employment.

They point out that human kind has evolved from an economy dominated by hunters and gatherers to that of craftsmanship, farming, and manufacturing by using their ingenuity. Modern worker can still shift and become a great entrepreneur (Essig, 2012).

As entrepreneurs, they can own capital and use it to craft a new and different future. As the robots advance to take charge of the future, humans too can advance by investing in the robotic world. Wealth will not stagnate but will spread in all directions making life more comfortable.

However, this argument has some weaknesses as it fails to address crucial issues. For example, not all people in the society can own adequate share capital from robots. The income realized cannot fully account for the total loss of employment and business opportunities (Ford, 2009).

To respond to these scholars downplaying the automation threat, the author of this paper will try to give numerical evidence. A few years back, technology and employment went up at more or less the same rate. The reader should keep in mind that this trend is not the same today.

But the reader will agree with this author that the performance of the companies exploiting technology is exceptional to say the least while, on the contrary, the employment rate has stagnated if not declined (Conference on Automation Systems for Business and Industry [Conference], 2011).

Case Study

Numerical evidence supports this fact. In North America, 41 out of 62 industries increased the use of information technology in their operations between 2007 and 2011. This development affected workers in the industries as technology took over their jobs.

The difference was clearly seen when the rate of technology use rose by 10% as employment declined by 7% within the same period. This observation may be viewed as correlation as opposed to causation.

It implies that industries making exorbitant profits have opted for technology over their employees. Technology is therefore the inability to hire workers (Taylor, Coppin & Wealthy, 2010).

The author of this paper appreciates the effects of automation given that it is predicted that by 2015, automation of business processes will have eliminated over 25% of human workforce in the labor market.

For example, the ZDnet automation which has a self- service mechanism will invade the financial labor market and many other sectors leaving little to be done by humans (Taylor et al., 2010).

The automation menace can be explained or categorized into three different categories. These are mechanization, automation, and process improvement. Mechanization and automation are well known for taking work from humans and transferring it to machines.

The last category involves completely denying humans work and edging them out of the labor market. At the end of the day, unemployment will be on the rise (Taylor et al., 2010).

James Albus (the inventor of some of the most intelligent machines) is worried about the fact that the automation machines he created will jeopardize the work meant for human beings. When he created these machines, he was optimistic that they will have the capacity to create wealth in the United States and around the world (Albus, 2009).

To address his worries, he opted for what he calls capitalism in his book Peoples’ Capitalism: The Economic of Robot Revolution. This is substantial evidence that the world labor force is crumbling down. To avert such a scenario, he advises that the only way is to uphold capital income. He asserts that if people acquire a substantial amount of capital income, it will help them compensate for the lost labor.

According to him, this will be the economic system of the future. From this author’s point of view, Albus (2009) is only concerned with eradication of poverty, pollution, and maybe war. But he does not tell how the whole world will be able to own capital share (Albus, 2009)

Having discussed the effects of automation on the employment sector, the author will shift the focus and address the effects of automation on business. Here, the reader will be made aware of the contribution of technology in business.

Business and Automation

The inventors of most of the automation machines argue that the creatures are not always cheaper than human labor. It is just that they give better and more promising results than their predecessors. They say that quality is a vital requirement in any business.

No human being can match the quality of the results the machines can offer. A good example is the General Motor manufacturing industries. Robots are used to assemble thousands of part in a short time. No human employee can keep up with that (Oregon, 2008).

The encroachment has extended to the medical sector where surgery in hospitals is done by robots with their backs stuck to computer tablets. The inventors contend that the robots are not preferred because they are cheap; rather, their work is quick and the patients are able to recover in a short time (Watkins, 2008).

And with the ever increasing number of patients undergoing operations in hospitals, the significance of the robots cannot be downplayed. It is expensive to buy a robot and statistics indicate that only 400 were sold to serve in hospitals in 2011 (Jin & Lin, 2012).

If someone happens to undergo procedures such as prostatectomy, there is a high possibility that a robot was involved in one or various stages of the operation, complementing the work of the specialists. As such, automation is doing well as far as business is concerned.

Automation machines need human intervention in all business processes. Although they would have sent home a significant number of workers, they will still need to be inspected whether they have performed the job correctly.

As much as they can produce quality and precise work, they will remain machines. As such, intervention as far as their performance is concerned is mandatory (Jin &Lin, 2012).

Another classic example of automation in this field is the business process automation also referred to as the BPA. The idea here is to reduce operating costs by incorporating automatic software to increase business productivity.

At the end of the day, quality and increased demand is achieved while business and automation are boosted (Jin & Lin, 2012).

Conclusion

In this paper, the author looked at the effects of automation on business and employment in contemporary world. The paper adopted an argumentative nature where the author took a stand and tried to defend it.

Opposing arguments were identified and debunked. It was found that the impacts of automation in these two fields are significant.

In conclusion, the reader may ask themselves whether there is any job that is safe from automation. One would be tempted to say yes, there are some jobs that are safe from this menace. However, evidence in this paper clearly shows that none of the jobs is safe.

Researchers are spending sleepless nights in laboratories trying to come up with algorithms that will give the robots the ability to search for facts and even narrate stories. This is an indication of the fact that the columns in the newspapers may be filled with stories written by robots (Miller, 2008).

One may then ask who will read the stories. It is noted that the readers of the virtual writers will be many. Those sent home after their jobs have been taken away from them by the robots will idle around as they read the stories written by the same robots.

References

Adler, P. (2010). Technology and the future of work. New York: Oxford University Press.

Albus, J. (2009). Peoples’ capitalism: The economics of the robot revolution. College Park, Md: New World Books.

Conference on Automation Systems for Business and Industry. (2011). Proceedings of the EIA conference on automation systems for business and industry. New Jersey: Engineering Publishers.

Essig, L. (2012). The speed of light: Dialogues on lighting design and technological change. Portsmouth, N.H: Heinemann.

Ford, M. (2009). The lights in the tunnel: Automation, accelerating technology and the economy of the future. New York: Acculant Publishing.

Jin, D., & Lin, S. (2012). Advances in future computer and control systems (2nd ed.). Berlin: Springer.

Killingsworth, C. (2008). Effects of automation on employment and manpower planning. East Lansing: Michigan State University.

Leontief, W., & Duchin, F. (2006). The future impact of automation on workers. New York: Oxford University Press.

Miller, C. (2008). Digital storytelling: A creator’s guide to interactive entertainment. Boston: Focal Press/Elsevier.

Oregon, C. (2008). The effects of technological change on employment in the lumber industry. Washington: U.S. Dept. of Labor, Manpower Administration, Bureau of Employment Security.

Taylor, A., Coppin, P., & Wealthy, P. (2010). The impact of new technology on local employment: A study of progress and effect on jobs in the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. Aldershot, Hampshire: Gower.

Watanabe, S., International Labour Office, & World Employment Program. (2009). Microelectronics, automation, and employment in the automobile industry. Chichester: Wiley.

Watkins, J. (2008). Information technology, organizations, and people: Transformations in the UK retail financial services sector. London: Routledge.

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IvyPanda. (2020, January 13). Effects of Automation on Business and Employment. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/effects-of-automation-on-business-and-employment/

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IvyPanda. "Effects of Automation on Business and Employment." January 13, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/effects-of-automation-on-business-and-employment/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Effects of Automation on Business and Employment." January 13, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/effects-of-automation-on-business-and-employment/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Effects of Automation on Business and Employment'. 13 January.

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