Should increased automation be embraced by our society?

In this latest May day’s speech by PM Lee, a lot of focus has been given to the future of jobs and the changing economy of Singapore. For a summary of the speech, you could refer to this link <a href=””></a>

This has got me thinking about the current trajectory of the economy and what the future could possibly bring. The future holds a promising outlook, yet very uncertain and challenging at the same time. Why has it been so? This could be due to increasing automation that we see in our society! According to World Economic Forum, the rise of technology will lead to more than 5 million jobs being eliminated. Redundancies would be widespread and companies would have to restructure in order to meet with this new challenge. We are already starting to see the rise of disruptive technologies, and a move towards the sharing economy through businesses like Uber, Grab, Airbnb, Deliveroo etc. In the process, many middleman are cut out and many taxi drivers worldwide have protested against their dwindling earnings. Retail industry growth has been sluggish, and many retail giants are struggling to keep afloat in an environment where consumers are increasingly looking at online spaces for shopping. Automation, disruptive technologies, and artificial intelligence are bound to eliminate even more jobs and spread to other industries such as healthcare, education etc.

This begs the question of whether society should embrace automation? We are going to see increasingly number of Singaporeans unemployed, unable to adapt and change according to the world economy and increased strain on government budget to sustain these people. The ones that are going to benefit from the future economy would be businesses that took advantage of these changes, and individuals who have the specialized skills and knowledge to adapt. What then is going to happen to the rest of the society? How then should we mitigate against such changes? Here’s something for you to consider about robot tax that is proposed by Bill Gates to mitigate against robots taking away human jobs:<a href=”;r=US&amp;IR=T”>;r=US&amp;IR=T</a>

A more comprehensive discussion would be done during class this week for my students 😛 See ya!

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