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Is Technology A Job Killer?

Unemployment remains on the high side, and while offshore job loss has taken a great toll, I believe that technology has contributed more than people realize too.

We all know friends (and maybe we do this ourselves too), that will go to a walk-in store, evaluate a product, talking to a sale person for an hour, the go home and order the product at a discount via amazon, eBay or similar online sites.  But have we even thought about the long-term effects of such tactics?

By wasting the salesperson’s time, this has effectively wasted the productivity of and added unrecoverable cost to the company.  Afterall, they don’t pay the salesperson to teach you about the merchandise they are selling so you can buy it at home.

How about technology like the Kindle or the iPad?  The Kindle (and iPad) may be a future killer of the entire book industry.  When people buy the electronic form of a novel, it hurts the book industry.  Think about it, the lumber companies, the transportation industry, and the retail book sales companies are taking a big hit or going out of business.

Something so innocent has the potential of killing the paper book industry entirely.  Look at Borders as an example, finding one of there stores is becoming more rare than seeing an albino tiger.

As technology and the offshore trend kills more and more domestic jobs, this affects other programs too, like Social Security.  The less jobs people have to work, the less money goes into Social Security.  Perhaps it will go busted before the 2030s hit…

What I’m really afraid of though, is how tight the future job markets might become for the future workers of tomorrow.  Where is my son and daughter going to work if the available jobs become few and far between?  How will they compete with foreign workers (who though technology can work from their country) who make 1/5 and in some cases 1/10 of what the typical American worker makes?

Did I mention that it’s technology that is killing the service areas that once held such great promise of the American and European countries?  We gave up on the manufacturing industry while singing the praised of the service industry and how that is the area that is the future of the developed countries.  But now that too is being done in by drastically cheaper labor pools in foreign countries.  Technology is what is making this shift possible.  Have you ever called customer support and had problems communicating with the customer support representative?

Thanks technology industry, after all, eating and wealth are overrated anyway…  It’s kind of ironic that we thought that technology was our big advantage, when in reality it’s what is killing our job markets.  Who would have thought…

I wonder why the government is still scratching their heads about why employment is not picking up as they expected…  Isn’t it pretty obvious?

Thanks for listening to explain my take on such matters.

MR

17 Responses to Is Technology A Job Killer?

    • True, but I was thinking about the total available jobs vs the total population looking for jobs. I can’t thnk of any type of job to replace those jobs that are being lost to technology.

  1. Technology is a offshoot of progress and progress is inevitable. How we keep up with changing dynamics determines if we’ll be able to hold our edge.

    With new technology comes new kinds of problems that require solutions (and new jobs!).

    Horse buggies were replaced by cars, train travel by airplanes… each had a devastating effect on what it replaced, but then it did bring in new opportunities.

    • I think technology is so cheap that any advantage the US and other developed countries had in the past is gone today.

      I view it as it wasn’t magic that kept the US on top it was momentum and affordability. Both of which China, India or any determined up and coming country can accomplish.

      With technology and labor wage inequality, I don’t see how the US or any developed countries can compete anymore.

      For my kid’s sake, I hope I’m wrong though.

  2. Social Security is already doomed, as the Trust Fund has been depleted. As Sam said, best to learn some inter-personal skills which can’t be easily shipped overseas or eliminated by technology.

    • I agree which what Sam said, but I was looking at the totals in aggegrate not individually. Individually it’s determination of the individual that’s important.

        • Typewriters, that’s another industry that technology has killed! I almost forgot about that example.

          Soon Computers will be throw away technology, so a repairman couldn’t really fix a computer soon.

          But with cloud computing (in the future) who even needs a real computer. all we’ll need is a solid state device that will run about $50 in the future. After all with google apps, we don’t really need spreadsheets, wordprocessors, etc…

          It’s fascinating actually…

  3. Technology is certainly changing society! As new technology comes out, we need to adapt to the changes. This one of the reasons, we need to keep learning new things or you will be left behind.

    • True, but investment in new areas is going overseas to cheaper but just as intelligent labor. In the past it was all the developed countries learning the latest and greatest things, but now all countries are at the same level. Since their labor is many times cheaper, we lose.

  4. Nice rant MR. 🙂
    Technology is going to keep marching on no matter how much we complain about it. The next generation is going to have to adapt even better than we did.
    As for us working stiffs, we have to continually evolve or else we’ll be out. That’s the fact of life.

    • True, as someone that works with technology, I’m glad that it does keep moving. But I think it’s bad more the masses at least those in the US or developed countries.

  5. I’m afraid that this is one area where we don’t see eye to eye. In sales, I service the manufacturing sector and it is in fact, technology that is what keeps American industry competitive with developing nations. I have a customer who’s use of robots, automation and high cavity tooling keeps a commodity product that has “pacific” written all over it still making parts in good ol NY.

    Also, it’s the innovative and technologically challenging products that are still being made here today. The easy stuff goes overseas..the tough stuff stays here.

    If our engineers weren’t pushing the envelope and innovating through new technology, then we’d have no chance of keeping good jobs here.

    I think technology is key to survival. The only downside I see is that it does mean a greater disparity of income between the rich and poor. People in tech jobs will do okay, but un-skillled workers will have fewer and fewer places to turn to when it comes to jobs at least here in the US.

    • I agree, today the tough stuff is being made over here and the easy stuff is going overseas. But that will changed in 10 or 20 years.

      Overseas labor aren’t less intelligent. Eventually they will get their sea legs and be able to stand beside those of us with the technological experience.

      As a worker in the tech field, I’ve seen offshore (especially Indians) grow from the mundane to more complex technical jobs. No labor starts out at the top, but with practice and experience that’s how everybody moves to the upper tiers…

      As as those overseas companies start to have some retained earnings, they can send more or R&D. A great example is Baidu and TaTa Motors.

      I like technology but it is hurting us, especially when combined with intelligent and cheap labor overseas.

  6. I’ve often had the same thoughts MR, I also regret having studied in the technology field as I always have to reinvent myself in order to keep up to date and compete with the cheaper labor in India. That might change though as I am thinking of changing fields and moving into the resources sector as this cannot be shipped anywhere!

    • Smart move! I think the the US is shooting itself in the food. Eventually India will take there resource pool and start to directly compete with those companies that trained them. I think it will be very ironic some day… much like the car companies.