Nick Randall discusses the social implications of the next industrial revolution
I’ve been discussing the potential social impacts of what we are generally about with various thought leaders this week. As technologists we are busy realising the ‘dream’ with a weather eye very much focused on doing generally cool things that will make peoples lives easier and better. Most of the discussion is about a positive social revolution.
Obviously we in our industry are aware that there is a potential downside to the upcoming revolution; whole areas of employment are under threat – from Big Data taking out layers of professions like legal, banking staff, estate agents etc. as well as the almost traditional erosion of manufacturing jobs with the progression of automation. To the latter category – just think what driver less vehicles might do.
Industrial relations are going to need to be handled by all parties much more effectively than the recent rail strikes in Southern England – as an example.
In our own industry – our innovations will lead to layers of technical staff being taken out of organisations. Turkeys voting for Christmas?
Do we think our political, corporate and industrial leaders are ready for this? Can they effectively manage this social revolution? Probably not. <gulp>
The proposed answer for this is touted by our industry peers as education and retraining. Well – I don’t see much group think from our political,corporate and labour force leaders on this so where is the strategic vision and leadership going to come from?
Perhaps we need a concept of social tax akin to the model we have adopted re carbon emissions and carbon tax? At least with “carbon tax” we have a framework to discuss the issue i.e. global warming.
Lets get a discussion started – but first lets invent and agree a framework for this discussion.