Is the U.S. ready for tech changes?

New technology offers both benefits and drawbacks. On the plus side, it makes our world a more interesting place. It improves our lives and allows businesses to get more done in less time. The negative? New technology inevitably reduces jobs. The Economist newspaper recently took a look at the double-edged sword that is technology.

Jobs

As the Economist story says, new technology has always resulted in a loss of jobs. This is something that’s been true since the dawn of time. The Economist’s example? A century ago, one in three U.S. workers toiled on a farm. Today? Less than 2 percent of U.S. workers do any work on a farm.

More productive

But as a result of technology, farms in the United States are more productive than ever before, according to the Economist story. Farms today produce a lot more food than they did when so many more U.S. residents were working on them. Simultaneously, the laborers who left farm life found, thanks to technology, different jobs.

Today’s challenge

Finding those different jobs is key, of course. It’s one thing for technology to eliminate jobs. This is OK if it provides enough alternative jobs at the same time. The challenge today is that many people worry that tech is just eliminating jobs, not creating new ones. This, the Economist argues, is where governments come in. It’s up to the government to invest in continuing-education programs that will foster the creativity that today’s workers will need as a growing number of lower-skilled positions disappear. If the education system doesn’t change to meet the needs of today’s workers? The country — and the globe — could be in serious trouble.


Posted on: 03.14.14