Within modern society, technology has been at the forefront of dramatically reshaping life as we know it. In recent years we have seen an exponential increase in the pace at which we see societal change, as well as an increase in the capacity of innovation. This shift into what is being coined as, ‘The Digital Age’, is through ‘emerging technologies‘.
The list of emerging technologies is constantly growing, with robots, VR, smartphones, 3D printing and online communications being a few recently trending. These technologies are broad-based in their scope and significant in their ability to transforming existing businesses and personal lives (West, D.M 2015). The adoption of this digital age has prompted concerns that emerging information and communication technologies will have a dramatic impact on employment, which will see both growing demand for new skills and occupations, as well as job losses in a number of more vulnerable industries (Angus, C 2015).
“Robots, artificial intelligence, computerized algorithms, mobile sensors, 3-D printing, and unmanned vehicles are here and transforming human life. People can decry these developments and worry about their “dehumanizing impact,” but we need to determine how emerging technologies are affecting employment and public policy” (West, D.M 2015)
With this future unemployment concern generating discussion and speculation amongst society, I have decided to centre my Research Report on the topic at hand; critically analysing the potential effects of continual technological development and dependancy, and whether it will have any profound impacts for employment globally. Over the duration of the coming weeks developing this research proposal, I will aim to find a number of different scholarly sources that will both aid in informing the research topic critically, as well as narrow down the thesis of the report to ensure the topic of analysis is not too broad.
In the initial stages of my investigation, I have uncovered a research report on NSW future workforce trends. Within the paper, Chris Angus highlights five overarching technological developments in the field of information and communications technology that are predicted to have the most profound impact on the Australian workforce: (Angus, C 2015).
- Cloud services
- The Internet of Things
- Big Data
- Machine learning and robots
- Immersive communications
It is made evident that the five points above will provide numerous benefits and opportunities for businesses across Australia. However, these developments will also have dramatic impacts on employment sectors, in particular labour. Further research into this issue brought me to CEDA’s economic report covering Australia’s future workforce. This report highlighted that developing technologies will reshape the labour market in two key ways. They will: (Gratton, L et. al 2015)
- Directly substitute for labour, with a high probability that as much as 40 per cent of the jobs in Australia could be replaced by computers within a decade or two; and
- Disrupt the way work is conducted, expanding competition and reducing the costs to consumers but also reducing the income of workers.
Another avenue for exploration within this topic was discovered through Andrew McAfee’s TED talk (featured at beginning of blog). Within his hypothetical explanation of societal challenges that emerging technologies pose for the future (Stereotypical workers – Ted + Bill 7:02); he makes note that there is a strong need for education systems and curriculum’s to prepare younger generations for the technological driven workplace, ensuring that schools do not continue to produce a large number of ‘Bill’s’ (McAfee, A 2013). I found this TED talk to be informing for my research topic, helping establish a research thesis that isn’t too broad.
Next week I hope to have accomplished three things:
- Finalised my research question
- Found scholarly sources highlighting the Utopian + Dystopian views of emerging technological effects on future employment
- Found scholarly sources presenting potential curriculum changes and avenues for schools to take in order to prepare their students for the reshaped workplace.
West, D.M 2015, ‘What happens if robots take the jobs? The impact of emerging technologies on employment and public policy’, Brookings Centre for Technology Innovation, October,
< https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/robotwork.pdf >
Gratton, L et. al 2015, ‘Australia’s Future Workforce’, CEDA, June Report,
Angus, C 2015, ‘Future workforce trends in NSW: Emerging technologies and their potential impact’, NSW Parliament Research Service, December Report,
Barkley 2017, ‘Emerging Technology Roadmap’, Website,
McAfee, A 2013, ‘What Will Future Jobs Look Like’, TED, YouTube,