The 3 rd Wave articulated in a series of briefings (Econoists21014/15 Avent R. (Ed)). The development of synthetic DNA for computer memory and the new coding systems has
enabled the data collection over the last five years to exceed the total collected over the previous recording period. The development of software, the Internet, Android and Windows (et al) as platforms is acknowledged as allowing global access to applications and algorithms. These are predicted to have a significant impact on cognitive-manual employment patterns
A recent report: Robot Revolution (Bank of America, Merrill Lynch 2015) suggest the impact on the Organisational Structures and the employer/employee will be significant.
You are required: To provide a critical evaluation the contention that the combination of Software/Hardware into autonomous Robots is a significant threat to the management of the organisation
The main objective of this study is to bring about a detailed analysis of how the evolution of technology affected the economy, workforce, and future prospects. The context of this discussion cuts across different developmental phases of technology and reaches right up to the area where Autonomous Robots and Artificial Intelligence are drastically altering the whole equation of economic situation. But first let us be clear of the background of this study of discussion. The technological advancements and the radical changes that had been brought by it, right from the first industrial revolution happened in late eighteenth century to second industrial revolution during late nineteenth century, apart from improving many peoples’ lives, rendered the workers at that time to lose their jobs as well. But nevertheless created huge economic opportunities on a massive scale (www.economist.com, 2014). However, a third great economic wave struck hard even more during late twentieth century and promised to transform invention, innovation, information, communication and computing technology and advanced robotics to the next level altogether. This era of revolution was primarily driven by machine intelligence and advanced robotics. With the rising of these path breaking innovations, certain capabilities were also developed like unmanned airborne vehicles (UAVs) or drones; technology in mobility so that distance between doctors and patients as well as teachers and students were greatly reduced so that a new paradigm with regards of job creation, economic activity and improved living standards could be introduced. Having said so, the natural instincts and flexibility of human mind with its immense potential to give new dimensions to the technology will always come on the way. However, in the next section we will comprehensively evaluate different aspects of the discussion as to how introduction of technology in autonomous robots could be a serious threat for any organization.
Literature Review and Critical Evaluation
A. Ends and Means, Easing the Transition
The robotic revolution that is being most widely talked about in the scientific as well as business domain is certainly going to transform world economy as far as its long-term consequences are concerned. In view of the innovations in this field, it is estimated that results could be seen in the next few years. As for autonomous robots, there are far reaching scopes for utilizing software and hardware such as dexterous manipulations, learning with the help of experience and given instructions (Maes, 1990). So, from this point of view it could be concluded that the autonomous robots are highly capable of assuming the kind of jobs that human intelligence till now was only capable of doing. However, it is also a view that creativity, ingenuity and decision making still lie in the realm of human realm. As per the views from ‘The Economist’ in the article “The Great Third Wave”, the technological changes occurred around the world resulted in a development large number of countries and allowed people to live much longer and fuller. As everyone knew, human always had an edge over the machines in that they are more flexible and can easily adapt to the new changes around them. However, history has things to suggest otherwise as in the past humans, despite being flexible, have struggled to find jobs owing to the shift in the balance in political power and hollowed out of workforces by technology. As a result of that significant number of people competed even for those jobs that required minimal skills and offered minimal wages.
This imbalance in the labor workforce can be dealt with adopting three strategies, as per the ‘The Economist’- enhancing productivity; transition of less-skilled into more-skilled workers; and giving support in terms of income for coping up in the new world. The first strategy of raising the productivity needs the various government to formulate the right economic policies such as proper licensing, less regulation and significantly reduced red tape. Also, the workers should be put into right places in order to provide more and better jobs for them. Secondly, higher spending in education could be an effective way to transform less-skilled labor force into higher-skilled one. Since, rich countries lack high skilled workforce and developing countries lack basic infrastructure for education thereby creating a wide gap to fulfill. The third strategy of providing support to the workers who are unable to adapt to the new circumstances, however, might invite tax burden to be shared by the population and that will encourage tax avoidance among rich (www.economist.com, 2014).
Some studies and findings have suggested that growing technological breakthroughs in robotics and artificial intelligence are not only going to affect low-skilled workers but these rising autonomous AI machines are creating risks for higher management as well. Ironically, certain companies and their managers are developing new avenues in artificial intelligence. To begin with, the working of autonomous robots is by using secure decentralized database and recording and storing every transaction taking place in a network. Consider this, if the robotic revolution allows robots to take up jobs right from cleaning carpets to assembling machines to even taking up the complex jobs equivalent to acquiring human judgment, then there will be a paradigm shift in the workplace. In the recent years, the technological innovation owing to its exponential growth has led to the penetration of robots and artificial intelligence into industries and our lives. According to a report by Bank of America Merill Lynch, the major risk of taking up of robotics and artificial intelligence may lead to increased polarization and hollowing out of middle income jobs.
B. Displacement Theory (Free Market concepts)
Displacement Theory in free market economy is always perceived through psychological analysis of the situation. According to Sigmund Freud, displacement happens when the conscious mind of a person in itself conveniently shifts the focus from a difficult or unacceptable target to a more acceptable or threatening one. It is a form of defense mechanism with which mind substitutes new goals effectively transferring emotions, ideas towards the new target in order to allay anxiety. As far as the robotics and artificial intelligence are concerned, the displacement theory suggests that the new technology will render a false sense of security and control when managerial jobs will be usurped by them. However, the theory leans towards free market economy from mixed economy that has considerable government intervention. According to free market concepts of the economy, the technological revolution in the field of autonomous robots and artificial intelligence can help the workers it will be going to displace. So, inexpensive, efficient and intelligent robots may replace the workers in the coming years and according to the study, it is estimated that over a one-third of British workers will be displaced by these robots. By 2035, a substantial number of job losses will take place among the blue-collar employees because of the innovations in the field of artificial intelligence. While this number will be more in United States, that is, half of the employees would have been lost their jobs by then. The new form of industrial robots will be ready to displace the low-paid workers and the more creative form of artificial intelligence will engulf while collar jobs. From the point of view of free market policies which were essential to allow innovative processes to go ahead in the companies, the initial cognitive stages of machine development are clearly visible where autonomous robots will be going to collect huge amount of data, process it intelligently and make pertinent decisions as well as gather experience from the past interactions (Kealey, 1996).
If we gauge out at the future then flexibility, adaptability and understanding human emotions are the key attributes that will render the autonomous robots to displace the present system of economy. The example of this approach can be best explained by steps taken by a Honk-Kong based company known as Deep Knowledge Ventures that employed an algorithm as one of its board of directors. The program called ‘Vital’ was allowed to give an opinion about the businesses and investments of the company on account of its ability to evaluate exceptionally large amount of useful data. So, the fundamental purpose of this algorithm is to develop an intelligent software that will be capable of assigning investment portfolio autonomously. Other firms are coming up with the versions that would contribute in developing the strategies for them. IBM’s Watson Supercomputer is going to take this process one step ahead and evaluate all the possibilities at the workplace. With this level of capabilities of Watson, professionals are worried as it will be quite able to analyze the contributions of the board members and determine their usefulness as well as accuracy. In another aspect of artificial intelligence, experts and researchers believe that these intelligent machines draw their ability to analyze and evaluate extremely vast data and then make decisions. However, humans sometimes judge the situations by irrationality, emotions and lack of knowledge. For an instance, the self-driving cars reduce road accidents by linking themselves to traffic monitoring superconductors. But the limits of such artificially intelligent machines are always decided as far as human intelligence is concerned, that is, creativity (Smith and Anderson, 2014)
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C. Replacement Theory (Marxist Concepts)
As per the definition of Replacement Theory in terms of operations research, there is a decision making process that allows replacing a used technology (which seems to be obsolete) with a new one, mostly a new and better one. This change is carried out on account of deterioration or failure or completely breakdown of that particular technology. The main rationale behind replacement theory is that the existing commodity has already out-lived or it has lost its economic value or is completely failed after being used for a certain amount. The items which can be included in this list are machines, tools, vehicles, equipment and technology as a whole. So, the important aspect of the change of that commodity is that the new developments are always seem to be promising and the depreciation of their economic value is clearly noted. So, in terms of the issue of the autonomous robots, the data driven world of today allows more and more robust technology to replace the existing ones in order to enhance efficiencies and performances. The platforms that these innovative technologies are built on, therefore, would not require any management to control (Business Insider, 2014). The need of artificial intelligence becomes very pertinent at this point to control the processes, to assemble automated tasks and to provide the services and the related tasks to their logical conclusion. Which is why, the involvement of the humans to run the whole show would definitely be limited and the significant threat to the management of organization will be realized.
The replacement theory, according to Karl Marx, can be summed up as the future form of the socialism will be going to replace capitalism. He conceived a utopian society where nobody will have specific area of activity or expertise but rather each individual can achieve his true potential and fulfill his desires as he wishes anyway. He believed that society was the main regulator general production of resources and opportunities to make anyone do one thing today and another thing tomorrow (Roberts and Hite, 2000). However, the replacement by the technologies in the field of autonomous robotics and artificial intelligence could pave a way for disaster as far as human management of any organization is concerned. The replacement, though, would bring about increased efficiencies and performances on the part of the machines but as against the ideals of Marx, the society will drift away from the utopian society that he proposed. It will be going to put the whole range of professionals in jeopardy by taking away their jobs. In addition to that the future robots due to their improved interfacing of software and hardware will have the autonomy and ability to interact with the workers. According to a report, the implementation of latest technology in artificial intelligence at various workplaces will influence as well as dictate the behaviors of professionals. So, in terms of replacement theory this will be an important step to boost work productivity and effectively adapt to the new environmental changes (Willis, Haltiwanger and Cooper, 1990). Also in view of the Marxist concepts, this sudden change ensued by the replacement with better technology, will also bring about an alienation in the workforce for the organization or for the technology itself and this condition will further render them feel more powerlessness.
D. Infill/Substitution (Labor Economic Concepts)
In this segment we will understand different scenarios with regards to induction and innovation of robotics in labor market.
1. Before automation and robotics: the labor market long before the inception of technology was based on manual work. Even though there was mass unemployment, then extraordinary machine work would employ numerous workers. The whole range of skill sets were required on the part of the workers to carry out different functions. The whole market was dependent on the hard work and their physical capabilities. The market structure was such that the communication, information and the transportation used to take really long to complete their processes. It was not easy to communicate effectively with different departments and organizations and most of it was based on old technology. Before the revolution in information technology, the distribution of the useful and relevant information among different departments and sectors was time consuming and redundant. Insofar as transportation was concerned, the overall processes were disordered, unclear and ambiguous and were completely dependent upon manual input.
2. Current state of labor industry and state of automation and robotics: the automation and technological advancements in every field have greatly affected the labor market of the contemporary era. The new avenues in automation have substituted a large variety of jobs while complementing others at the same time. They have opened new platforms irrespective of whether workers find it easy to shift themselves towards them or not. Also, they have soared the demands for goods and services with the expansion of the incomes. It is now a fact that some of the tasked that cannot be substituted by the automation can be complemented by it (Ehrenberg and Smith, 2000). However, the jobs created by the complementarities of automation allow workers to move to the new avenues but the increase in the wages are very little because the elasticity in terms of labor supply mitigates wage increments. If in case of complementary jobs being available in other parts of the economy, then the inflow of the new workers is going to temper the wage gains emanating from the introduction of automation and human labor. The recent developments in the field of information and technology have significantly reshaped the labor market. This effect of technological advancements has produced job polarization in which many middle-skill level jobs have been substituted by technological advances in the employment. The low-skilled class of the workers being replaced by the automation have been grown in number but not in their wages because it is easy to shift them into this segment.
3. What can be expected in the future? The developments and innovations in robotics and artificial intelligence have given rise to the anxieties as to what form these technologies might take up. There is a widespread cause of concern that these technological advancements will let the substitution of labor by the machines, thereby leading to the state of technological unemployment in the economy and a short-term inequality (Culnan and Bair, 1983). There are also some moral implications of these technological advancements because earlier it was said that there were dehumanizing effects of work but the advent of technology has led to the elimination of work and that in itself has allowed the work as the source of dehumanization. It is also a subject matter of concern that the autonomous robots, in the future, are going to perform much more complex tasks like solving associative memory problems at the human levels. These activities include intelligently sensing and recognizing the situations and make informed decisions.
As we saw in the overall study regarding advancements in the area of autonomous robotics that there are enormous scopes and implications of robotics and artificial intelligence in all areas of studies. We extensively elaborated from the advent of first industrial revolution till the onslaught of third great wave of technological revolution, we have come of age in terms of jobs as well as development of the society at large. The exponential developments in the artificial intelligence has created a huge space for them to exploit the jobs that were till now only performed by humans such as managerial evaluations and decisions. The study effectively tells the far-reaching consequences of developments and innovations of autonomous robotics. The possibilities are also galore that the control and abuse of robots by the humans can inflict malicious actions on the mankind and wreak havoc thereafter. So, this manipulation of robots could be dangerous for the society. Also, the wide potential of misuse by the robots in terms of weapons technology has already started an arms race among certain nations in the world. The creation of Unmanned Airborne Vehicles (UAVs) and drones by the military and implementation of related technology are growing exponentially (Jenkins and Peseri, 2014). Another area of concern that is looming large is the way that ordinary automated systems are pretty much vulnerable to hacking because the intelligent computer network is an effective conduit for the hackers to destroy the system. Which is why, to prevent the abuse of hacking there is a dire need to develop new automated systems. The scientists and researchers around the world believe that autonomous robotics and artificial intelligence are ready to spread destructive technologies that are enough to alter our lives in workplaces, industries, homes and society as a whole. Therefore, it is imperative to learn and address the capabilities, limitations and potential uses and misuses of robotics and artificial technologies. However, it is also clear that the future around us is going to be greatly influenced and impacted by ever rising avenues of the robotics and artificial intelligence.
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