Is technology taking your job?


Technology is becoming, if not already, the biggest focal point in our lives. Wouldn’t you agree? Most of us, especially those of us lucky enough to work for a technology PR agency, owe our jobs to it. For the last few decades, technology has done wonderful things for society and created countless jobs for us all to enjoy.

But has the worm finally turned? Are we now becoming victims of our own success? A report from Oxford University certainly predicts so. It claims that up to 47{20156fe61baea400d2663eb990f17abdabeb6ef183a2129287a793abd8ac1d8a} of jobs currently occupied by humans in America (even humble technology PR executives), could be replaced by machines or robots within the next 10 to 20 years.

It’s long been a theme of science fiction, satire and comedy, but could robots really be taking our jobs? Never mind in 10 or 20 years, it’s already happening. Traditionally, productivity, jobs, hourly wages and income all grow in harmony together. But over the last 30 years, GDP and productivity have grown, while income and employment have stalled. Technology has played a big part in this, writes Wendell Wallach of the Yale University Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics in his new book; ‘A Dangerous Master: How to Keep Technology from Slipping Beyond Our Control.’

As new technologies continue to displace workers, wage stagnation will also continue to rise. How about this as an example: In 1990, the big three car manufactures in America, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, earned $36 billion in revenue, and they employed over a million people to help them do it. Today, the big three tech firms, Apple, Facebook and Google, earn over $1 trillion in annual revenue, and with a combined staff of just 137,000.

Obviously it’s difficult to directly compare manufacturing to companies that often offer no tangible product, but with so many breakthroughs in robotics since the 90s, how likely is it that a similar number of people are still needed to build cars?

A hoax news story has been doing the rounds this week from the japesters at satire site NewsExaminer, reporting that everyone’s favourite fast food chain McDonalds has opened a new restaurant in Arizona, run entirely by robots. They also reported that McDonalds hope to open 25,000 further robot-run restaurants by 2016. While clearly untrue, the story was still picked up by several legitimate news websites and went around PR and social media sites faster than you can say ‘viral!’.

So people clearly see robots taking their jobs as believable reality. What then, can we take from this? Does society already see technology as a threat, even in 2015, long before the science in The Matrix and The Terminator can even be seriously theorised?

Should technology firms be concerned at a potential consumer backlash? A scenario may even arise whereby technology PR specialists like Whiteoaks are seen as the default go-to people in the tech industry, provided we haven’t all been replaced by robots ourselves.

But will we as consumers seriously vote with our feet to prove the pen mightier than the pointer? Will we see an overhaul in tech PR strategy in the coming years? Answers on a postcard, please. Actually, just send an email.