Automation is arguably the advancement of technology that has changed society most in the past 100 years, with a report from Forbes stating that “Technology Has Already Taken Over 90% Of The Jobs Humans Used To Do”. Indeed by 2030, 800 million jobs will cease to exist because of automation!
I know what you’re thinking, the immediate thought is to jump towards the pieces of technology that allow you to read these words, which I relied on myself to publish these words. But no, for there is a greater technological advancement that has occurred in the past 100 years that is far greater than any smartphone, computer or dare I even say the internet. Although you may argue that these advancements have altered society significantly, which I agree they have, I feel that the technological advancement that has changed society the most in the past 100 years is automation.
Automation first became prominently used in 1947 at the Ford automation department, from there it has developed to such a level that it is now threatening to cease 800 million jobs to exist by 2030. It has dramatically changed society, mainly through the takeover of previously labour-intensive industries. It has displaced workers and thus, in turn, people as well as leading to hundreds of new industries which didn’t exist 100 years ago, let alone 50 years ago. It has provided us with greater choice as previously unattainable products are now reachable to the consumer through mass production, which in turn has shifted our lifestyles leading to huge shifts in the economy and thus the country as industries and services provided by countries now shift to resettle around the ever-changing requirements for human labour due to further advancements in automation.
The best example of this is to look at America which contains the “Bread Basket of the World”. 100 years ago almost the entire of the population worked in farming but now thanks to automation only 2% do and they still cater for a population almost four times the size. Meanwhile, these former farmers have still ended up in work in new industries that have been created as the economy adapts and begins to provide more employment in the service sector than in providing goods.
Automation has definitely had the greatest impact on society as it has led to changes in lifestyle, economies and the ways that countries sell themselves to the rest of the world. The main question that remains is, will the world be able to continue to adapt to greater advancements in automation by creating even more industries and jobs or will it get left behind?