Technology — anything from mechanical gadgets to cloud-based networks — will be the most significant variable influencing the future economy. With another industrial revolution right around the corner, no market will be spared from the tidal waves of change. Looking back in time, we’ve gone from letters to Emails, the Nintendo DS to Virtual Reality Headsets and the Keystone Cops to self-driving Teslas. With each of these advancements came a huge paradigm shift in the economy, thus we could only expect the same with more contemporary developments such as AI (Artificial Intelligence) or 3D printing.
Technology will automate mundane tasks, resulting in greater efficiency and a wider blend of talents, abilities and viewpoints in the working world. It will facilitate access to global economic data, making it just as feasible to conduct business in a neighbouring city as doing so on another continent. Technology’s impact will be seen even in the smallest details of the future workplace, increasing the productivity of employees, fostering international trade — but also eliminating millions of jobs worldwide. To begin, technology like processing software and communication networks will raise productivity, allowing the workforce to do more with less. Billing software will replace manual accounting, taxation, invoicing or payroll, freeing up human resources to grow a business and perform more valuable tasks. Start-ups may also use workload automation instead of hiring job schedulers; not only will this virtualized software boost efficiency in event-planning, it’ll also reduce security and compliance risks for a company (Kukier, 2014). Increased productivity rates will strongly impact the economy, bringing more revenue and raising the GDP per capita. Moreover, online platforms will allow more flexibility in the workplace.
Conference rooms will become obsolete as employees could simply tune in on a meeting with wifi and an impromptu office. On top of that, the usage of technology will largely accelerate decision making within a team; as problems arise, members can quickly devise solutions through online communication tools (Ertem, 2015). In the near future, these leaps in workplace productivity may lead to wage increases for management teams, as businesses could afford higher salaries when workers are efficient. Most economists agree that technological advancements will expand businesses’ operations to a global scale, notably through electronic communication networks and improved means of transportation. In a matter of decades, the internet has given rise to E-commerce — virtual businesses on the world wide web. Online retail platforms similar to eBay and Amazon will continue to emerge, enabling business owners to enter global markets (Lui, 2017).
Similarly, small businesses will be able to reach consumers in different economies through retail websites, social media, and web banner advertising. This form of marketing brings about interactions between firms like never before, fostering more international trade and economic globalization. On another note, future globalization wouldn’t be possible without enhanced transportation systems.
Can you imagine walking from the Port of Vancouver to an IKEA in Toronto, all while carrying 80,000 bookcases on your back? Fortunately, humans have devised inventions like the wheel, the railroad and the jet engine to allow quicker, more efficient transportation of goods around the world. While some may not be able to locate Beijing, China on a map, they certainly purchase an overwhelming number of goods that were manufactured there. Futuristic transportation technology will severely impact global economies by creating even more export/trade opportunities for developing countries, and coercing capitalist countries to alter their policies in order to welcome the integration of new financial markets (Natale, 2017). In the future, cargo aircrafts are expected to complete high-velocity shipment at an affordable price, opening up the world of transcontinental trade for smaller businesses. Despite the all benefits technology will bring, it could also threaten the livelihoods of certain workers in the economy, lowering their wages and boosting unemployment rates. This subject matter has steadily gathered pace over the past few months, yet people still seem to have the same responses towards it. It won’t happen for ages.
There will always be new job creation. It won’t affect me. Alas, they may be disappointed to hear that a technological revolution may happen a lot faster and sooner than they’d expected. Algorithms will soon process thousands of times faster than human minds, and droids are already more efficient at jobs like building cars, writing articles, translating — jobs that once required a human. Demands for human labour will plummet, leaving middle-class workers with less bargaining power. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, for each new robot added per 1,000 workers, wages in the surrounding area would stagnate by 0.5 percent (Acemoglu, 2017).
Consequently, employees may find the need to work more in order to pay the bills, making 80-hour workweeks not just exclusive to Wall Street bankers (whose jobs, by the way, might also be taken over by technology). It’s important to note that routine-based jobs such as lawyers or receptionists will be the most vulnerable to pay reduction (Mahdawi, 2017), and today’s youth should reconsider the profitability of their career choices before joining the workforce. At the same time, technology in the economy will cause working-class personnels to face a much grimmer fate of unemployment. For instance, fast-food self-serving kiosks will speed up the ordering process and reduce opportunities for human error, where does that leave the cashiers? Workers in the manufacturing sector are essentially supervisors of machines, but when machines advance to no longer require supervision, what will those workers do? The pattern of unemployment caused by technology can be seen repetitively throughout history: mechanization in the 19th century eliminated transportation like horse carriages, while the internet wiped out video rental markets in the 2000s (Blockbuster who?). Present technology will pose a similar threat, but in a much wider range of industries.
University of Toronto’s School of Public Policy & Governance predicts that 1.7 million to 7.5 million Canadian jobs could be at risk in the next 10 to 15 years, only occupations requiring immense creativity (i.e.
scientists) or skill (e.g. plumbers) will be spared (Levine, 2016). Predictably, tech will widen the gap between the rich and destitute as wealthier individuals will be offered more opportunities (i.
e. employment and investment) compared to those with minimal education. Clearly, no matter how much convenience technology brings, there are some disadvantages accompanying this level of access.
Ultimately, technology will transform the economy by inducing greater productivity, allowing far-reaching collaboration and displacing low to middle-class occupations. These advancements, however, will be a hit AND miss. Humans will undoubtedly create unimaginable economic opportunities and revolutionize the way we work, but also end up with millions unemployed and desperate for another shot at success. Therefore it is essential for children to gain complex problem-solving skills now, in order to prepare for jobs that don’t currently exist.
Either way, the pace of change in the past is only a shadow of what we’ll see over the next 10 to 15 years. Needless to say, technological advancements today will fundamentally reshape the futuristic economy, for better or for worse.