There is a general anxiety among many people when thinking about what the future of their industry might look like in light of our transition to an Internet of Things-based society: How will the era of artificial intelligence, automation and robots impact on our jobs?
And even more extremely, what will the role of humanity be when many of the core jobs of the industrial society are replaced by machines?
But there’s a flip side to this coin of the human-machine relationship and reconsidering our anxiety and focusing on the solution will help increase our chances of prosperity over the coming decades.
Already faced with over a quarter of the population being unemployed, that over 75 percent of current jobs in South Africa will either be rendered obsolete or changed beyond recognition by the Fourth Industrial Revolution seems like an extremely ominous challenge on our horizon.
But this doesn’t automatically translate to job losses. While highly repetitive tasks are indeed being modernised by digital technologies, making an employee twice as productive does not mean halving the availability of jobs: it is estimated that 85 percent of the jobs that will drive the world economy in 2030 have yet to be created.
This also means that beyond generalised estimations about the types of skills people will require to participate in this new economy, we do not know the precise skillsets these new jobs will require, and thus how to definitively structure our education system to prepare workers accordingly.