As technology advances, the mixed feelings are getting real. The excitement of progress and man’s self-satisfaction is coming at the expense of things like “ethics” and jobs. I’ve been following some conversation on this matter, but because ethics have become extremely subjective, let me talk about jobs briefly instead. We’ll talk about issues revolving around ethics some other time when I’ve had breakfast and have the energy.
You know for sure that something is making noise when films, particularly soapies, start incorporating it into their scripts. If you watch Isidingo on SABC 3 religiously… or not, you’ll know about the ongoing crisis of mine workers who are protesting over the introduction of the new machinery because it is threatening their employment and subsequently their livelihood.
See, employment is much associated with livelihood hence the first reaction to anything that threatens it is a NO! But let’s look at it a bit more closely by asking ourselves: Is it the employment we want or it’s the means to survive we are more concerned about? Sounds obvious but trust me, there’s actually a lot of people picking the answer you didn’t. So for both your sakes I’ll address both.
Say your answer was employment: I would assume by employment you mean keeping busy and being productive (feel free to let me know if this assumption doesn’t hold for you). So the next question would be: is being employed the only way you can keep busy and productive? If yes, it’s probably because that’s the only way we’ve been exposed to, so somehow we are limited to think that it indeed is the only way. If your answer is no, then please share with us how so we also learn one or two things from you.
The second option to the initial question is that all you want is to make a living or is to make money. I have a follow up question to that: who said that the ‘traditional’ employment is the only way to make money?? Remember the industrial revolution? Do you think that everyone was excited about it? Do you think that no one worried about their job being replaced by a machine? But how did that turn out? Did everyone lose their jobs and starve to death? Well, that’s the beauty of life, we evolve and adapt! Key is learning how to adapt and to adapt fast.
However, I understand that there is a transition stage to worry about.
During this transition, the key is flexibility! Be flexible. You can actually choose to be a jack of many trades and still master them all (see what I did right there?). The idea is not about solely focusing on one thing, yes it could be your main but you still need to learn other side items that can help you carry out that thing more efficiently. There’s no harm in learning how to be a public speaker even as a coder or learning a few tricks on how to balance a cashbook as a journo. What I refuse to believe is that a person can only be good at one thing or even that a person can only have one interest in life, that’s impossible – at least Zimbabwe has taught me that.
Apart from the transition stage, which we should start working on now by the way, I don’t really think the disruption is as bad as it looks. The change may be dramatic, but one thing for sure is it’s not totally unpredictable. Besides, fortunately for Zimbabwe (in a very ironic way) we have more time to transition since our tech adoption is already slow – let’s take advantage of that. We can start thinking (or even copy) ways in which to deal with this prior to it’s ‘arrival’; start creating new types of employment which will still be compatible with automation; start phasing out courses or degrees that are likely to be of no use in the next 20 years etc. I know it’s a lot of hard work, research and all but is it not worth it?
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